INTERNATIONAL. Oil output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose in May to the highest level since 2008 as Saudi Arabia pumped crude at the fastest pace in at least 23 years, a Bloomberg survey showed.
OPEC production gained 20,000 barrels to an average 31.595 million barrels a day in May from a revised 31.575 million in April, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.
Output increased to the highest level since October 2008. The April total was revised 170,000 barrels a day higher.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, bolstered output by 80,000 barrels to 9.9 million barrels a day this month, the highest level since at least January 1989, based on monthly data compiled by Bloomberg.
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on May 13 in Adelaide, Australia, that he wanted to see the Brent crude contract drop to $100 a barrel. Brent oil for July settlement decreased $1.60, or 1.6 percent, to $101.87 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was the lowest close since Oct. 4.
“The Saudis are making it abundantly clear that they will keep the market well supplied,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “They wanted to see prices fall, and that’s finally taking place.”
Libyan output rose 50,000 barrels to 1.4 million this month, the highest level since January 2011, the survey showed. Production in the country tumbled to 45,000 barrels a day in August from 1.585 million that January, the last month before an uprising that overthrew the government of Muammar Qaddafi disrupted output.
Nigerian production climbed 40,000 barrels a day to 2.18 million this month, the third-biggest increase in OPEC, the report showed.
Output in Iran, the group’s second-biggest producer, declined 50,000 barrels a day to 3.225 million, the lowest level since June 1992.
Iraqi production decreased 45,000 barrels to 2.94 million a day this month. Output in April surged to the highest level since October 2001. The country’s output had been depressed since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in March 2003. Iraq had the second-biggest production decline this month.
OPEC decided at a Dec. 14 meeting in Vienna to increase its production ceiling to 30 million barrels a day, the first change in three years. The new target is for all members, including Iraq, which had previously been exempt from monthly goals. OPEC will review quotas at its next meeting, scheduled for June 14.
“The members obviously have no particular interest in the group’s quotas,” Lynch said. “The meeting next month should be very straightforward and uneventful.”