OPEC oil production jumped to a 17-month high of 23.69 million barrels a day in August as the cartel responded to a market gearing for higher consumption in the winter months, according to a Reuter survey released Friday.
The August estimate is 270,000 barrels per day higher than July’s and the highest since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 24 million barrels in March, 1990.
“Through the month we saw progressively higher tanker loading rates from Saudi,” a European oil executive said.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, accounted for most of the rise, pushing output up to 8.4 million barrels in August from July’s 8.2 million. Riyadh also has a half share in 200,000 barrels of Neutral Zone oil, the territory between it and Kuwait.
Most other member countries showed virtually no change.
Kuwait brought another 50,000 barrels on stream last month to take its August monthly average up to 160,000 barrels, excluding its Neutral Zone share. Before the Gulf War, Kuwait produced about 1.5 million barrels a day.
Iran, the second-largest exporter, pumped 3.4 million in August, near its capacity and unchanged from July. It appears to be selling virtually all that it produces, which would put it above its OPEC allocation of 3.217 million barrels.
Tehran and Riyadh have muddied the supply picture in the past few months with sales from huge stockpiles held on tankers.
Oil industry sources doubt whether Iran will restock but say Saudi Arabia may have already started.