London — OPEC's crude oil production in August, not including newest member Congo, rose to a 10-month high, with Iraq surging to record output and Libya recovering from militia fighting, more than offsetting Iran's slide as the sanctions-hit country struggles to keep its customers, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey.
The 15 members of OPEC pumped 32.89 million b/d in the month, the survey found. Taking away Congo, which joined the organization in June, OPEC's August output of 32.57 million b/d is the highest since it produced the same amount in October 2017, as it unwinds supply cuts that have been in place since January 2017.
Pressure from US president Donald Trump to moderate oil prices, plus fears of an overtightening market due to US oil sanctions on Iran that go into effect in November, prompted OPEC and 10 allies to agree June 23 in Vienna to reduce overcompliance with their cuts and increase output by 1 million b/d in the months ahead.
The 12 OPEC members with firm quotas achieved 115% compliance in August, according to Platts calculations. Libya and Nigeria are exempt, while Congo has yet to be given an allocation.
Iranian production has already begun to suffer in advance of the sanctions, falling to 3.60 million b/d in August, the lowest in more than two years, according to the survey. Oil exports from the country plunged 17% from July, as key buyers China and India significantly cut their purchases, data from Platts trade flow software cFlow showed.
Platts Analytics estimates that some 1.4 million b/d of Iranian oil is expected to leave the market by November.
Meanwhile, Iraqi production swelled to 4.68 million b/d in August, up 110,000 b/d from July and the highest recorded in the 30-year history of the Platts OPEC survey, as exports from both the country's southern port of Basra and through the Turkish port of Ceyhan saw increases.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC's biggest producer and the world's largest crude exporter, pumped 10.49 million b/d in August, the survey found. That is far above its quota of 10.06 million b/d under the supply cut agreement, but below the 10.8 million to 11 million b/d that it had signaled it would produce at the June meeting. Kingdom officials have said demand for Saudi crude has yet to require such levels of production just yet, but added that they stand ready to supply the market as needed.
LIBYA RISES, VENEZUELA FALLS
Libya added the most barrels in August within OPEC, as output recovered to 940,000 b/d with the lifting of force majeure in July on loadings from the country's eastern ports, which had been blockaded for about a month by a militia group, as well as the ramping up of production from the Sharara field after the kidnapping of some workers there in mid-July was resolved.
Libyan production in July was 670,000 b/d, the lowest it had been since April 2017.
Nigeria increased its production by 70,000 b/d in August, according to the survey, with loadings up in the month.
Venezuela continued its production decline, as output slumped to 1.22 million b/d in August, a year-on-year plunge of 680,000 b/d, the survey found. The country is in the throes of an economic crisis that has impaired its ability to maintain its oil facilities, pay workers and afford diluent to produce its extra heavy crude from the Orinoco basin. August output was also affected by a tanker collision at the Jose terminal late in the month that led to its shuttering for repairs.
But a settlement reached August 20 with ConocoPhillips over $2 billion owed to it by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA provides some hope that the country's crude exports could rise in the weeks ahead. ConocoPhillips had been seeking to seize PDVSA's assets in the Caribbean under an international court ruling which had severely impaired the Venezuelan company's ability to export crude.
The Platts OPEC figures were compiled by surveying OPEC and oil industry officials, traders and analysts, as well as reviewing proprietary shipping data.
A six-country monitoring committee overseeing the OPEC/non-OPEC supply accord will meet September 23 in Algiers to assess market fundamentals and potentially make output policy recommendations.
OPEC PRODUCTION (IN MILLION B/D)
OPEC PRODUCTION VS ALLOCATIONS (IN MILLION B/D):
* Congo has not yet been given an allocation
** Libya and Nigeria were given an unofficial combined 2.80 million b/d cap, near their presumptive maximum sustained production capacities of 1.00 million b/d and 1.80 million b/d, respectively
*** Total allocation does not include Congo
Notes: On June 23, OPEC and 10 non-OPEC producers agreed to boost output by a combined 1 million b/d by reducing overcompliance with production cuts but left unsettled how that will be apportioned.
The estimate for Iraq includes volumes from semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Republic of Congo joined OPEC in June 2018, becoming the organization's 15th member.
The next full OPEC meeting is December 3.
--Herman Wang, email@example.com;
--Edited by Jonathan Fox, firstname.lastname@example.org