OPEC and its allies boosted crude oil output by 470,000 b/d in September, but with many members still struggling to reach their quotas, the coalition is producing far below what it said it would.
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OPEC's 13 countries pumped 27.29 million b/d, up 320,000 b/d from August, the latest S&P Global Platts survey found, while Russia and eight other partners added 13.44 million b/d, up 150,000 b/d.
Despite the increases, the 19 members with production quotas under the OPEC+ supply accord were a combined 570,000 b/d below their allocations for the month, bringing compliance to 111.5%.
The shortfalls have contributed to what many analysts say is a tight market. Oil prices have surged in recent weeks, with Dated Brent hitting three-year highs and key customers of OPEC+ crude, such as the US, calling for more supplies to tame the rally.
OPEC+ members with ample spare production capacity, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq, did ramp up output in September. In fact, Russia and Iraq both overproduced their quotas, according to the survey, and have been among the alliance's least compliant members.
Russia pumped 9.86 million b/d, above its target of 9.70 million b/d, while Iraq surged to 4.18 million b/d, exceeding its allocation of 4.11 million b/d, the survey found. At 9.66 million b/d, an increase of 90,000 b/d over August, Saudi Arabia was quota-compliant.
Non-OPEC Kazakhstan also saw a major rebound in its production, with the end of heavy maintenance at its Tengiz field pushing its output up 110,000 b/d to 1.41 million b/d in September, according to the survey.
But several other countries faced significant disruptions to their operations, many due to damaged infrastructure.
For a growing number, years of underinvestment exacerbated by the COVID-19 oil price crash have limited their ability to pump more, leading to questions over whether the OPEC+ alliance will be able to fully unwind its historic pandemic-prompted output cuts by the end of 2022, as planned.
Nigeria, for example, underperformed its quota by the largest volume in September, 224,000 b/d, as key crude grade Forcados spent the third of the month on force majeure, while damage to the Nembe Creek Trunk Line severely impaired exports of Bonny Light. The West African country pumped 1.39 million b/d, up 30,000 b/d from August, the survey found.
Angola, which produced 1.15 million b/d, according to the survey, has not hit its allocation for months, with its mature fields in decline, though a few new projects have recently come online that could add some volumes in the coming months.
Malaysia was the non-OPEC member with the largest gap below its cap, with sources saying its flagship Kimanis crude experienced reduced flows due to issues at an offshore platform.
OPEC members Iran and Venezuela, both under heavy US sanctions that target their oil exports, are exempt from having quotas under the agreement, as is Libya, which has seen much volatility in its production due to civil strife. Combined, the three countries' crude output was flat month-on-month, according to the survey.
Short of targets
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.
OPEC+ ministers plan to convene next on Nov. 4 to decide on December production targets.
The OPEC+ supply accord calls for quotas to collectively rise 400,000 b/d every month, though that can be adjusted, if ministers see fit.
Delegates have said that the continued inability of some members to produce at their quotas means that actual output levels likely will remain below what the deal has prescribed, which could delay what many analysts have forecast, of market oversupply as soon as January.
But in the short term, if oil prices keep going up, pressure could mount on the members with spare capacity to produce more. Platts Analytics estimates that by the end of 2021, global sustainable spare capacity will fall to 2.5 million b/d, 97% of which will be held by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Russia and Iraq.
Unit: million b/d
Source: S&P Global Platts
** In July 2021, OPEC+ ministers agreed to raise production quotas by 400,000 b/d every month, which puts the alliance on pace to fully taper its historic 9.7 million b/d output cut agreement by late 2022.
** The quotas are determined from an October 2018 baseline production level, except for Saudi Arabia and Russia, which were given baselines of 11 million b/d.
Iran, Libya and Venezuela are exempt from the cuts.
** The S&P Global Platts OPEC survey, which has been published since 1988, measures wellhead crude oil production in each member country. The survey began including the non-OPEC partners in the OPEC+ alliance from January 2020.