MEES reports OPEC nations still exceeding oil production quotas

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is still exceeding its own production quotas despite production falling 730,000 b/d last month to 25.77 million b/d, according to figures issued by the Middle East Economic Survey based in Cyprus.

LONDON, Jan. 14 -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to exceed its own production quotas although production fell 730,000 b/d last month, according to figures issued by the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) based in Cyprus.

MEES estimates that OPEC production now stands at 25.77 million b/d including Iraq. Daily output from the 10 OPEC members with quotas (Iraq's output is set by United Nations sanctions rules) fell by 10,000 b/d in December to 23.77 million b/d. That amount is 569,000 b/d above OPEC's target of 23.201 million b/d. Nigeria accounts for most of the excess, producing 300,000 b/d a day above its agreed quota, MEES said.

Most of OPEC's production decline came from a 720,000 b/d shortfall in Iraqi production precipitated by a dispute between Iraq and the UN over pricing.

Evidence that OPEC is not maintaining quota discipline had a muted market impact: Brent prices on the London International Petroleum Exchange fell 25¢ to $19.49 and electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange are seeing price drops on West Texas Intermediate crude of 76¢ to $19.568.

MEES earlier this month said OPEC output fell 640,000 b/d to a 6-month low of 25.83 million b/d in December. Excluding Iraq, OPEC output gained 110,000 b/d and exceeded quotas by 629,000 b/d.

OPEC officials in Vienna today would not comment on the figures, but industry sources regard MEES figures as consistently matching official OPEC figures which are eventually published.

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