[LONDON] Opec's crude production climbed to a record last month as increased output from Gulf members made up for persisting losses in Nigeria and Libya, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Supplies from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose by 120,000 barrels a day to average 33.69 million a day in August amid increases by Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, the survey of analysts, oil companies and ship-tracking data showed. The group is due to hold informal talks in three weeks in Algiers, where Russian President Vladimir Putin says an agreement can be reached to limit output.
Iraq led the increases, boosting supplies by 70,000 barrels a day to 4.48 million a day, after the government resumed flows from Kirkuk through a northern export pipeline controlled by the nation's Kurds, signaling progress in a long-standing dispute over payments. Iran raised production by 60,000 barrels a day to 3.62 million as it continues its return to global markets after the end of international sanctions in January.
Saudi Arabia, the group's biggest and most powerful member, raised output by 30,000 barrels a day to an all-time high of 10.69 million a day. The kingdom increased production to meet both domestic consumption - which peaks in the summer with surging air conditioning use - and demand from customers overseas, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in an interview with the Saudi Press Agency last month.
Opec nations will meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak for informal talks on the sidelines of an industry conference in Algiers scheduled for Sept 26 to Sept 28. Putin would like Russia and Opec to reach a deal on freezing supply, he said in an interview on Thursday. Any dispute over Iran's participation which thwarted a previous effort can be resolved, he said.
Still, with Opec members already producing at, or close to, their maximum capacity, any accord they reach on a freeze will have little relevance for actual supplies, according to Mike Coleman, founder of Singapore-based hedge fund, RCMA Asset Management Pte Ltd.
"It's more symbolic," Mr Coleman said. "The production freeze doesn't do anything. To have a meaningful impact on prices, you need a production cut."
Nigeria suffered the biggest production decline among Opec's 14 members last month, sliding by 130,000 barrels a day to 1.44 million a day. Companies are struggling to repair pipelines in the oil-rich Niger Delta following attacks claimed by militant groups.
Libya experienced the next-biggest losses, sliding 40,000 barrels a day to 260,000 a day as the country's political factions continued to feud over the control of oil export terminals. Output restarted at the Sarir oil field, Arabian Gulf Oil Co said Thursday, following the receipt of payment from the state-run oil company.
Last month's production figure exceeds last year's level even when adjusted to exclude Gabon and Indonesia, which joined the group this year. Estimates for most members' production in July were revised from the previous survey.