The 10 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members obligated to reduce oil output under the landmark agreement signed late last year achieved 91% of their required cuts in January, with their production falling 1.14 million barrels per day (b/d) from October levels, according to the latest survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts by S&P Global Platts, the independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets. Those cuts were, however, offset partly by output gains in Libya and Nigeria, which are exempt from the accord, and Iran, which is allowed to increase its production slightly.
“The market has taken early indications of compliance with the OPEC/non-OPEC production agreement bullishly, and, indeed, the cuts that OPEC made in January look strong so far. But as we are just barely into the six-month deal, it’ll take a few more months of monitoring to know whether the discipline that OPEC is displaying will hold,” says Herman Wang, OPEC specialist, S&P Global Platts.
In all, OPEC’s 13 members – not including Indonesia, which suspended its membership at the group’s last meeting – produced 32.16 million b/d in January, a 690,000 b/d decline from December, the S&P Global Platts survey showed. With Indonesia, the organization’s January production totaled 32.89 million b/d. Under the agreement, OPEC pledged to cut 1.2 million b/d from its October output levels for six months starting from January 1 and freeze production at around 32.5 million b/d, including Indonesia. Eleven non-OPEC countries led by Russia have also agreed to cut output by 558,000 b/d in the first half of 2017.
The survey shows that several OPEC countries covered by the agreement still need to make some progress in lowering output to their allocations, though the over compliance of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Angola helps compensate. Since the deal covers an average of January to June output, some month-to-month fluctuations are to be expected. Saudi Arabia has backed up the strong words of its energy minister Khalid al-Falih, who played a key role in negotiating the agreement, with its January production falling to 9.98 million b/d, according to the Platts survey.
That is below its allocation of 10.06 million b/d under the deal, as crude exports declined by more than 500,000 b/d in the month, S&P Global Platts shipping tracker cFlow showed. It is also the first month Saudi production has been below 10 million b/d since February 2015, according to the survey archives. Falih in recent weeks had said that the kingdom would “strictly adhere to our commitment” and signalled that it would make deeper cuts in February.
Likewise, Kuwaiti oil minister Essam al-Marzouq, who chairs a five-country committee that will monitor and enforce the production agreement, has said that Kuwait would “lead by example.” Accordingly, Kuwait’s production for January was under its quota of 2.71 million b/d, coming in at 2.7 million b/d, a 130,000 b/d drop from December, the survey showed. Besides Kuwait, the monitoring committee comprises fellow OPEC members Algeria and Venezuela, along with non-OPEC Russia and Oman.
Algeria is slightly above its quota of 1.04 million b/d, with January production at 1.05 million b/d, while Venezuela also exceeds its allocation of 1.97 million b/d, producing 2.01 million b/d in the month, according to the survey. Angola is below its allocation of 1.67 million b/d, with January output at 1.63 million b/d, as its crude loadings showed declines in the month.
Iraq, which had sought an exemption from the deal, has the most barrels to cut to reach its allocation, with January output at 4.48 million b/d, according to the survey, while its quota is 4.35 million b/d. The January figure, however, was a decline of 150,000 b/d from December production, as exports from Iraq’s southern terminals showed a significant decline from the previous month’s record levels.
Iran, which is allowed to boost production to 3.80 million b/d under the deal, had January production of 3.72 million b/d, a 30,000 b/d increase from December.
Meanwhile, exempt Libya and Nigeria showed increases of 50,000 b/d and 210,000 b/d, respectively, as they continue to recover from militancy-related outages. Libyan output had reached 715,000 b/d during the month, but frequent power shortages and a fire at the Sarir field caused production to fall towards the end of January, for a full-month average of 670,000 b/d, according to the survey. Nigerian output saw good signs of recovery after recent attacks on infrastructure in the Niger Delta, as well as the return of key export grade Agbami from maintenance last month, averaging 1.65 million b/d in January.