London — Saudi Arabia pumped close to its all-time high in July and several of its OPEC brethren posted their largest crude oil output figures in more than a year and a half, as the bloc appears to be following through on its agreement to unleash more barrels on the market.
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OPEC produced 32.66 million b/d in July, a 340,000 b/d rise from June, including newest member the Republic of Congo, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey of industry officials, analysts and shipping data.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest member, produced 10.63 million b/d, the kingdom's highest since August 2016, when it produced its record 10.66 million b/d, according to Platts survey archives.
Its Gulf allies Kuwait and the UAE pushed their output to their most since December 2016 -- the last month before OPEC and 10 non-OPEC allies agreed to implement supply cuts that are now being eased -- as did Iraq and Algeria, the survey found.
Those gains were more than enough to offset output declines in sanctions-hit Iran, crisis-wracked Venezuela and conflict-torn Libya.
OPEC on June 23 agreed with its partners to end overcompliance with their production cuts and boost output by a collective 1 million b/d to replace barrels expected to be shut in by the reimplementation of US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela's economic quagmire.
OPEC's July compliance among the 12 members with specified quotas stands at 105%, down from 131% in June, according to Platts calculations.
GAINERS AND STRUGGLERS
Iran, which has warned other members against encroaching on its market share, saw its production fall to 3.72 million b/d in July -- lowest since January 2017 -- as European buyers began winding down their purchases in advance of US sanctions snapping back in November.
Venezuela, suffering from crushing debt, crumbling infrastructure, worker unrest, hyperinflation and US sanctions, continued its output slide to 1.24 million b/d, a 670,000 b/d drop in a year and the lowest in the 30-year history of the Platts OPEC survey, except a debilitating worker strike in late 2002 and early 2003.
Libya's output dropped 30,000 b/d month-on-month to 670,000 b/d, its lowest since April 2017, the survey found, as it dealt with a militia blockade of its eastern ports that was resolved July 11 and a kidnapping at the Sharara field in the country's southwest.
Angola's production remained steady at 1.45 million b/d in July, a 190,000 b/d year-on-year decline, according to the survey, as its mature fields continued to deplete. But the African country should see its production rebound in the coming months with the offshore Kaombo field beginning first production in late July.
Major gainers besides Saudi Arabia include Nigeria, which boosted its output to 1.80 million b/d as the force majeure on key export grade Bonny Light was lifted mid-month, and the UAE and Kuwait, both of whom had signaled their intent to loosen their taps.
UAE output rose to 2.97 million b/d, while Kuwait produced 2.78 million b/d in July, the survey found.
Iraq also raised crude exports from its southern terminals to a record high in July, with its production coming in at 4.57 million b/d, according to the survey.
Newest member Congo produced 310,000 b/d in July, a drop from 330,000 b/d in June.
The Platts OPEC figures were compiled by surveying OPEC and oil industry officials, traders and analysts, as well as reviewing proprietary shipping data.
OPEC production (in million b/d)
OPEC production vs. cut allocations (in million b/d)
* Congo has not yet been given an allocation
** Libya and Nigeria were given a 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 OPEC meeting is December 3.
--Herman Wang, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Eklavya Gupte, email@example.com
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, firstname.lastname@example.org
S&P Global Platts OPEC survey methodology
Since 1988, S&P Global Platts has published a monthly survey tracking OPEC crude oil production by country. The estimates are obtained through a review of proprietary shipping data, news reportage and surveys of knowledgeable sources.
Data reviewed include loading programs, export statistics and tanker tracking via Platts cFlow. Sources interviewed for the survey include national oil company or ministry officials; analysts at international agencies, think tanks, consultancies and banks; and traders. The sources remain confidential and are interviewed by a team of Platts oil news reporters -- typically led by Herman Wang, Platts OPEC correspondent, and Eklavya Gupte, Platts senior editor for Europe and Africa news.
The survey is typically published between the 5th and 10th of each month, and it measures oil output -- excluding condensates and NGLs.