Crude oil output from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is on course to reach its lowest since October 2011 this month as unrest in Libya, pipeline leaks in Nigeria and Iraqi export disruptions weigh on supplies, a Reuters survey showed on Thursday.
Supply from OPEC is set to average 30.18 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 30.42 million bpd in February, the survey of shipping data and sources at oil firms, OPEC and consultants found.
In Nigeria, supply has edged lower following disruptions by oil spills, flooding and theft in the last few months. Output of Bonny Light crude, one of the main grades of crude oil produced in the country, was under force majeure for part of the month after a pipeline leak.
Iraq, the world’s fastest-growing exporter, has shipped less from its southern ports due to bad weather and problems including a leak from a pumping station. Exports of Kirkuk crude remain restrained by a dispute between the central government and the Kurdistan region over payments.
Crude output has remained under pressure in Libya, where oil installations have become a focal point of protests. Industry sources say output has been affected at fields including Conoco’s Waha.
The survey indicates top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia is still keeping a lid on output. Oil, trading at $109 a barrel, is above Saudi’s preferred level of $100, although prices have fallen 2 percent this year on concern about the global economic outlook.
OPEC’s March output will be the lowest since October 2011 when the group produced 29.81 million bpd, according to Reuters’ surveys. OPEC output is the closest it has been to its supply target of 30 million bpd since it took effect in January 2012.
Iran’s crude exports have edged lower in March to around 1.15 million bpd from an upwardly-revised 1.2 million bpd in February, according to the survey.
U.S. and European sanctions led to a sharp drop in Iranian exports last year, while in March some Asian customers have bought less crude due to maintenance at refineries.
Iranian shipments are down from a post-sanction high of at least 1.4 million bpd in December.
OPEC is scheduled to meet on May 31 in Vienna to review its output policy for the second half of the year. At its last meeting held in December, OPEC kept its target unchanged although Saudi has tweaked supply depending on demand.
Saudi Arabia has kept supply to market little changed at 9.23 million bpd this month, according to the survey. It trimmed output in the last two months of 2012, in a reduction that supported oil prices.
FEMI ASU WITH agency report