Opec oil production rose in in January as record Iraqi output helped drive prices near six-year lows.
Production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries climbed 483,000 barrels a day to 30.905 million a day this month, led by gains in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Angola, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.
Output rose even as oil futures dropped to the lowest level since 2009. Opec left its production quotas unchanged at a November meeting, prompting speculation that the group will let prices slide low enough to slow US output that's climbed to the highest in three decades.
"There's clearly a battle for market share among the members of the group," John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone on Friday.
"The Iraqis feel entitled to a greater share of the total and have been the most aggressive at discounting."
Iraqi production rose 200,000 barrels a day to 3.9 million this month, the biggest gain after Saudi Arabia, according to the survey. Output climbed as the country added growing Kurdish supplies to its exports, while southern oilfields remain unscathed by Islamic State militants. Iraq is Opec's second- biggest producer.
Output in Saudi Arabia, Opec's top oil producer, climbed 220,000 barrels a day to 9.72 million a day.
Brent crude for March settlement fell 4 cents to US$49.09 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 8:55am in New York. Brent, the benchmark for more than half the world's oil, touched US$45.19 on Jan 13, the lowest since March 2009.