Niger Delta Crisis; OPEC Output Slides in December due to Disruption in Nigeria

OPEC’s crude production fell by 310,000 bpd in December, as unplanned disruptions in Nigeria reduced the group’s supply before deliberate cuts take effect this month.

Nigeria’s daily output dropped by 200,000 barrels to 1.45mn in December, ending three months of gains as the African nation struggled to restore capacity after a year of militant attacks on oil infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia’s production fell by 50,000 bpd while Venezuela declined by 40,000.

“Crude production in Nigeria in December was once again severely impacted, mostly due to a field maintenance as well as a strike of port workers,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based consultant Energy Aspects Ltd, said by e-mail.

The decline in December comes as Opec, which controls around 40% of global supply, is planning to curb output in a bid to boost oil prices. The organisation reached a historic deal last month with Russia and other non-members to cut global production by almost 1.8mn bpd starting this month.

Overall, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – excluding Indonesia which suspended its membership on November 30 – pumped 33.1mn bpd in December, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts, oil companies and ship-tracking data. That compares with a November total of 33.41mn bpd for the 13 continuing members of the group, or 34.14mn including Indonesia’s daily output of 730,000 barrels.

Under the terms of last month’s agreement, Opec’s total output including Indonesia would fall to 32.5mn bpd. Compliance with that target will be judged against independent estimates compiled by Opec, which can vary from the Bloomberg News survey.

In Nigeria – which along with Libya is exempt from making cuts because of conflict – maintenance on the Erha field and strike action by workers at Exxon Mobil Corp’s operations in the country disrupted both exports and production, Sen said. A year ago, the country was pumping almost 2mn bpd.

No cargoes of the Agbami crude grade were shipped in first half of December, while three out of the four Erha cargoes originally scheduled to load were deferred, with two of those moved into January, according to loading programmes obtained by Bloomberg.

Iran, Kuwait and Angola each reduced output by 20,000 bpd while Algeria and Iraq dropped by 10,000, the survey showed. Libya pumped an extra 50,000 bpd last month as the Northern African nation reopened two of its biggest oil fields and loaded the first cargo in two years from its largest export terminal.



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