OPEC and its allies added 750,000 b/d of crude production in July, slightly shy of what it had planned, as only eight of the coalition's 22 producers boosted output last month despite looser quotas, the latest S&P Global Platts survey found.
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The 19 countries with quotas under the OPEC+ deal produced 35.99 million b/d in July, despite having a collective ceiling of 36.34 million b/d.
OPEC's 13 members pumped 26.83 million b/d in July, up 640,000 b/d from June, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 80% of the increase. The group's nine non-OPEC partners, led by Russia, produced 13.38 million b/d, a rise of 110,000 b/d from June.
The group's compliance to its July quotas, however, fell to 106%, its lowest compliance rate since January. This was because OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia unwound almost all of its voluntary cut, producing 9.48 million b/d, near its July quota of 9.50 million b/d and its highest level since April 2020.
The OPEC+ alliance has now added 1.72 million b/d of production in the past three months as the oil demand recovery gathers pace this summer.
But demand headwinds due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Asia and Africa, along with internal battles within the producer group, mean the rest of 2021 may not be as smooth as it had first envisaged.
After a few heated meetings in July, the coalition finally agreed to increase output by 400,000 b/d every month starting in August, while also granting five countries -- Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UAE, Iraq and Kuwait -- higher output targets starting in May 2022.
But many of the coalition's smaller producers, such as Angola, Nigeria, Malaysia and Algeria, have seen their production capabilities fall steadily due to technical and operational reasons, shrinking the amount of spare capacity they have available to boost output.
Big producers up
Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, saw its crude exports surge in July to more than 6 million b/d, while seasonal crude burn remained elevated due to high summer temperatures, according to the survey.
The kingdom had implemented an extra 1 million b/d production cut below its quota in February, but that has now been largely unwound over the last three months.
Besides Saudi Arabia, most of the sharp increase in OPEC+ output came from the other big producers in the alliance, such as Russia, Iraq, UAE and Kuwait.
The OPEC+ group's largest producer Russia pumped 9.64 million b/d in July, above its 9.50 million b/d quota. Its compliance rate in July slipped to 90% from 97% the previous month.
Exports of Russian crude fell in July, but domestic refining runs rose sharply due to increased demand, the survey found.
The UAE, which was recently involved in a spat with Saudi Arabia over its 2022 production quotas, pumped 2.72 million b/d in July.
This was an increase of 50,000 b/d from June for OPEC's third-largest oil producer, which has serious ambitions to boost its production capacity.
Iraq boosted production by 50,000 b/d, averaging 3.99 million b/d in July, just below its quota of 4.02 million b/d, according to the survey.
Federal Iraqi crude oil exports in July rose despite some operational issues at its southern loading terminals.
Its compliance to its OPEC+ quotas, which have come under question in recent years, rose to 104%, its highest rate since January.
Iran, which is exempt from a production quota, produced 2.52 million b/d in July, its highest since April 2019.
But the sanctions-hit country has still not been successful in negotiating a new nuclear deal with the US, delaying its full return to the oil market.
The country's new president, Ebrahim Raisi, faces a tough task in forging an agreement and obtaining sanctions relief in a time of intensifying geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
Many Western powers have blamed Iran for a couple of maritime security incidents near the Gulf of Oman, but Iran has denied involvement.
The OPEC+ alliance is scheduled to meet Sept. 1 to review its plans to continue raising production through the autumn and winter.
Many analysts expect robust demand growth to continue through the end of the year, though seasonal weakness in the first quarter of 2022 could give ministers pause.
The Platts figures, which measure wellhead production, are compiled by surveying oil industry officials, traders and analysts, as well as reviewing proprietary shipping, satellite and inventory data.