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Saudi Arabia's oil output was 9.744 mil b/d in January: source

Dubai — Saudi Arabia produced 9.744 million b/d of crude oil in January, in line with its promise to keep output 400,000 b/d below its new OPEC+ quota, a Saudi oil industry source said Sunday.

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The kingdom plans to produce 9.744 million b/d in February as well, the country's energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman told reporters last month. The kingdom produced 9.6 million b/d in December, according to its self-reported figures in OPEC's January monthly oil report.

Saudi Arabia over-complied with its quota of 10.31 million b/d last year under the old agreement with the 23-member OPEC/non-OPEC coalition, collectively known as OPEC+, as the country made up for laggards Iraq and Nigeria, which flouted their quotas for most of last year.

The coalition deepened its production cuts to 1.7 million starting January 1, 2020 from 1.2 million b/d last year to help soak up excess supply in the first quarter of 2020.

OPEC+ meeting

OPEC+ may hold a technical meeting in the next few days ahead of its March 5-6 meeting in light of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed over 300 Chinese, stoking fears of a global dip in oil demand as crude prices plunged in January.

The gathering of the Joint Technical Committee in Vienna may be held instead of moving up the full ministerial meeting, sources told S&P Global Platts. Urged by Saudi Arabia, OPEC+ has debated moving forward the ministerial meeting, but not all members had been supportive.

Oil rout

Brent prices fell 12% in January and WTI plunged 16% as the deadly virus spread to at least 23 countries, with the first fatality outside China recorded in the Philippines over the weekend.

Several airlines have reduced or temporarily suspended flights to and from China, where more than 14,300 coronavirus cases have been detected.

Some Arab airlines have joined their global peers by suspending flights to and from China, as the Middle East recorded its fifth case of the virus in the UAE on Saturday.

The outbreak is expected to blunt global oil demand by at least 900,000 b/d in February and 650,000 b/d in March, according to Platts Analytics. In a worst-case scenario involving travel curtailments, demand could drop by up 2.6 million b/d in February and 2 million b/d in March.