LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil output has fallen in February from the highest monthly level in recent history, a Reuters survey found on Monday, due to a halt in Iraq’s northern exports and outages in other producers.
The survey also found stable output in top exporter Saudi Arabia, an early sign that Riyadh is delivering on a Feb. 16 deal along with Venezuela, Qatar and non-member Russia to freeze output and support prices, which hit a 12-year low last month.
Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has declined in February to 32.37 million barrels per day (bpd) from a revised 32.65 million bpd in January, according to the survey, based on shipping data and information from sources at oil companies, OPEC and consultants.
Most of the decline in February output has been involuntary. The biggest drop is in Iraq, OPEC’s largest source of supply growth in 2015, due to the stoppage in flow along the pipeline carrying crude from the Kurdish region.
“The interruption from Kurdistan is significant because they were a big part of the increase in exports from Iraq,” said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix. “It is prompt supplies and these are large volumes.”
The pipeline, which had been carrying around 600,000 bpd in recent months, has been offline since Feb. 17 and could be shut until mid-March.
Production also declined in Nigeria, where Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian venture suspended the flow of Forcados crude to the export terminal following a spill. The incident added to the impact of lower scheduled exports.
Field maintenance including at the Murban development has reduced output in the United Arab Emirates, the survey found.
Saudi Arabia has kept output steady compared with January at 10.20 million bpd, sources in the survey said, citing stable exports in much of February. Saudi production reached a record high of 10.56 million bpd in June.
Of the countries increasing output, Iran boosted supply further following the lifting of Western sanctions in January. Iran, which wants to recover market share it lost under sanctions, has criticized the production freeze agreement.
Iran has increased supply by 200,000 bpd since December, according to Reuters surveys, while Iranian officials say the country has boosted exports by a much larger 500,000 bpd.
OPEC production has surged since the group in November 2014 abandoned its traditional role of cutting supply alone to prop up prices, in the hope that lower prices would curb the growth of more costly-to-develop competing supply sources.
The extra OPEC barrels have helped to create one of the biggest supply gluts in history, and the production freeze agreed by the three OPEC members plus Russia represents the first global production pact since 2001.
Editing by Dale Hudson
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