We estimate that OPEC production fell m/m by 0.11 mb/d to 32.37 mb/d in January, higher y/y by 0.19 mb/d. Compliance with the OPEC/non-OPEC production deal rose to 135% as a result.
The declines were concentrated in West Africa. Nigerian production fell m/m by 60 thousand b/d, to 1.85 mb/d, as the 0.23 mb/d Bonga field was offline for 12 days in the second half of the month. The field restarted on 28 January, so production should recover in February. Meanwhile, Angolan production slipped m/m by 30 thousand b/d to 1.63 mb/d (155% compliance) in January. While this may indicate some upstream technical issues, it could also just be a reflection of the steep natural decline rates, which we estimate at nearly 18% y/y in 2017 for Angolan fields that have entered decline. While a number of new fields—including Total’s 0.23 mb/d Kaombo project—are under development, Angola’s Ministry of Finance recently warned production could fall below 1.1 mb/d by 2023 unless new projects are approved soon.
UAE production fell m/m by 30 thousand b/d to 2.85 mb/d (117% compliance) on planned upstream maintenance, which is scheduled to be heavy through February and March at the Murban field. Venezuela’s output also fell m/m, by another 20 thousand b/d to 1.68 mb/d (407% compliance). Turning to m/m gains elsewhere, these were extremely limited. We estimate Iraq raised output by 10 thousand b/d to 4.38 mb/d (86% compliance) and we have also revised our figures for November and December 2017 up by 20 thousand b/d each. Libya and Iran each added 10 thousand b/d, to 0.97 mb/d and 3.81 mb/d respectively. Output from Libya’s As Sarah field recovered to 65 thousand b/d in the second half of January, but a brief outage at the 75 thousand b/d El Feel field late in the month weighed on output. Libyan output is currently at 1.0-1.1 mb/d, with exports high. Saudi output remained flat m/m, at 9.98 mb/d (115% compliance) in January, with exports broadly unchanged m/m, at 7.1 mb/d, as refinery works were delayed.
The average of third-party estimates we collect shows a 10 thousand b/d increase in OPEC production to 32.36 mb/d in January (134% compliance). The picture is skewed by large downward revisions to December 2017 estimates for Venezuela made by many agencies—the OPEC average for the month was lowered by 90 thousand b/d. The main difference to our numbers in January was Saudi Arabia, where third parties saw a m/m gain.
We expect OPEC output to remain below 32.5 mb/d over the next few months as planned upstream maintenance and continued strong compliance offset gains in Libya and potentially Nigeria. Crude exports will rise as refinery maintenance peaks in March and April, but Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers remain determined to avoid flooding the market with crude.