OPEC oil output in April up on higher Iran supplies: Survey

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OPEC oil output has risen in April as higher supply from Iran countered involuntary cuts and agreed reductions by other members under a pact with allies, a Reuters survey found, adding to signs of a 2021 recovery in Tehran’s exports.

The 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 25.17 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, the survey found, up 100,000 bpd from March. Output has risen every month since June 2020 with the exception of February.

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Iran’s exports are rising as talks take place to revive a 2015 nuclear deal which could eventually allow more oil to the market.

US President Joe Biden’s administration took office in January pledging to rejoin the accord.

So far, OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, are not concerned by Iran and plan their own output boost from May.

“The elevated levels that we are seeing from Iran are generally continuing,” Daniel Gerber, chief executive of Petro-Logistics, a consultant that tracks oil shipments, told Reuters this month.

Hoping for a demand recovery, OPEC+ this week confirmed a plan to ease from May more of the record cuts made in 2020.

From May Saudi Arabia will also begin to unwind an extra voluntary cut it made in February, March, and April.

The extra Saudi cut means OPEC still pumped much less than called for under the OPEC+ deal in April. Compliance with pledged cuts was 123 percent, the survey found, versus 124 percent in March.

Iran, plus fellow OPEC members Libya and Venezuela, are exempt from making cuts, so changes in their output do not affect the compliance rate.

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Iran has managed to raise exports since the fourth quarter despite US sanctions, according to various assessments of the shipments.

The survey puts Iranian supply in April at 2.5 million bpd, up 200,000 bpd from March and the biggest rise in OPEC.

There were small increases in Algeria, Nigeria and Angola.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia kept output steady, delivering on its additional cut pledge for a third month. Output was also steady in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the survey found.

Libya and Venezuela posted notable declines.

Libya on April 19 declared force majeure on exports from its Hariga oil terminal due to a budget dispute with the central bank, and production dropped. The force majeure was lifted this week.

Venezuelan output, which has been edging up in recent months, fell back amid a shortage of medium and light crude for blending operations to produce exportable crude grades, the survey found.

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