London — OPEC+ crude oil output ticked up 210,000 b/d in October, the latest S&P Global Platts survey found, as the alliance readies to set production levels for 2021 in what may be an increasingly oversupplied market.
Receive daily email alerts, subscriber notes & personalize your experience.Register Now
OPEC's 13 members pumped 24.54 million b/d, while nine allies, led by Russia, that have been coordinating supply with the organization since 2017 added 12.73 million b/d, according to the survey.
War-weary Libya, which is exempt from having an OPEC+ quota as it seeks to put years of war and instability behind it, was largely responsible for the output gains, almost tripling its output to 460,000 b/d in October – the country's highest production since January.
Its state-owned National Oil Corp. on Nov. 7 reported that it was now producing more than 1 million b/d, as a tenuous ceasefire between rival groups has allowed fields and ports to reopen.
Libya's robust comeback will add pressure on the OPEC+ coalition's efforts to rebalance the market after the crash caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The alliance, which controls about half of global oil supply, is already grappling with a stalling recovery in demand that could be exacerbated by another round of lockdown measures in major economies, and the apparent victory of Joe Biden over Donald Trump for the White House could see the US ease sanctions on Iran, eventually paving the way for more of its barrels to hit the market.
Oil prices have slid in recent weeks from above $45/b in September to around $40/b, reflecting the bearish outlook and putting OPEC+ members' finances under strain.
Given these conditions, OPEC+ officials have strongly hinted that their original plan to ease quotas for 2021 by some 2 million b/d is likely to be shelved for at least a few months, though no details have yet been settled.
Some have suggested tighter cuts could even be on the table, but already slack compliance among some members facing domestic political pressures would make such an agreement difficult to pass.
Ministers will determine 2021 production volumes when they convene online Nov. 30-Dec. 1. A key OPEC+ monitoring committee co-chaired by the alliance's two largest members, Saudi Arabia and Russia, will meet Nov. 17 as the first step towards a decision.
DEEP UAE CUTS
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia pumped 8.99 million b/d in October, right at its quota, according to the survey, while Russia, which has an identical cap, produced 9.11 million b/d.
Overall adherence with the OPEC+ production accord, which instituted steep output cuts in the wake of the coronavirus market crash, improved to 100.2% in October for the 19 members with quotas, boosted by the UAE's robust overcompliance. Besides Libya, sanctions-hit Iran and Venezuela are exempt.
Compliance had been 98.9% in September, according to Platts calculations.
The UAE produced 2.42 million b/d in October, the survey found, more than carrying out the 100,000 b/d in so-called "compensation cuts" it had pledged to make beyond its 2.59 million b/d quota to make up for previous months' production above its cap.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., which pumps the vast majority of the UAE's crude, has said the extra cuts will continue in November and December, having already informed its term customers of significant reductions in allocated volumes.
OTHER COMPENSATION MISSING
But other members obliged to implement compensation cuts largely failed to do so, most notably Iraq, which had the largest volumes to make up but is contending with tremendous financial hardships and a fractured government.
Iraq's production rose to 3.79 million b/d in October, according to the survey, just under its 3.80 million b/d quota but without the 165,000 b/d in catch-up cuts it was supposed to enact.
Nigeria, another member with substantial compensation cuts owed, remained above its quota at 1.53 million b/d, the survey found, though subtracting out its approximately 160,000 b/d of Agbami grade, which the country maintains is condensate and thus not covered under the OPEC+ pact, would put it in solid compliance.
Even with Agbami included, Nigerian production is at its lowest since December 2016, when sabotage to oil infrastructure by militias caused output to slump.
The Platts figures are compiled by surveying oil industry officials, traders, and analysts, as well as reviewing proprietary shipping, satellite and inventory data.
OPEC-10 + NON-OPEC
- OPEC and its allies in May implemented a 9.7 million b/d production cut accord that tapered to 7.7 million b/d from August to December. It is scheduled to scale down again to 5.8 million b/d from 2021 through April 2022.
- The cuts are determined for most countries from an October 2018 baseline production level, except for Saudi Arabia and Russia, which were given baselines of 11 million b/d.
- Non-OPEC Mexico exited the deal at the end of June.
- OPEC members Iran, Libya and Venezuela are exempt from the deal.
- The OPEC+ coalition's next formal meeting is Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Vienna. A nine-country Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee will meet online Nov. 17 and monthly thereafter to assess compliance.
- The S&P Global Platts OPEC survey, which has been published since 1988, measures wellhead crude oil production in each member country. In 2020, Platts began estimating production from the non-OPEC members of the OPEC+ alliance.