News ID: 241224
Published: 0243 GMT April 10, 2019

OPEC’s oil production plunges to four-year low in March

OPEC’s oil production plunges to four-year low in March

Oil supplies from OPEC sank by half a million barrels a day in March, hitting a four-year low.

The monthly production decline amounts to roughly half a percent of global oil demand. The drop is greater than the total monthly output of four of OPEC’s 14 members, reported CNBC.

The producer group, along with Russia and other non-member countries, is trying to keep 1.2 million barrels per day off the market through June, following a collapse in crude prices at the end of 2018.

The production curbs by the so-called OPEC+ alliance aim to drain oversupply from the oil market and boost prices.

OPEC’s output fell by 534,000 bpd in March to 30.02 mbd, according to independent sources cited by the group in its monthly report.

This year, supply from the group has fallen by more than 1.5 mbd, helping to drive international Brent crude prices 30 percent higher.

The headline OPEC output was the lowest since February 2015, when the group pumped 29.97 mbd, though its membership has changed several times since then.

Much of the March decline is due to Saudi Arabia’s willingness to aggressively cut production. In March, the Saudis took another 324,000 bpd off the market, bringing output to just under 9.8 mbd and delivering on Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih’s vow to pump well below 10 mbd.

Saudi output has now fallen by about 1.3 mbd from its all-time high at 11.1 million in November.

The terminal decline in Venezuelan output continues to help OPEC+ cut global oil supplies. Following a series of blackouts that disrupted oil operations, Venezuela’s production plunged by 289,000 bpd to 732,000 bpd in March.

Venezuela is now grappling with US sanctions against state-owned oil giant PDVSA and a political standoff between socialist leader Nicolas Maduro and opposition figure Juan Guaido.

The next biggest decline came from Iraq, which cut production by 126,000 bpd in March to just over 4.5 million barrels. That brought OPEC’s second-largest producer roughly in line with its production cap for the first time this year.

The declines were offset by Libya, where output surged by 196,000 bpd to nearly 1.1 mbd. The nation’s production often fluctuates due to unrest, and its supplies are now in question after an insurgent Libyan general sent his troops into Tripoli, the seat of the rival United Nations-recognized government.

OPEC+ alliance members will meet in June to discuss oil policy. Saudi Arabia is leaning toward carrying over the production cuts into the second half of 2019, while Russia refuses to commit to an extension.

This year’s oil price rally has prompted President Donald Trump to call on OPEC to hike output and tamp down prices. The producer group has so far ignored Trump’s warnings.

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