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Opec output steady near 2 1/2-year high as Saudi pumps 10m b/d

[NEW YORK] Opec oil production was little changed in April near the highest level since November 2012, as Saudi Arabia pumped 10 million barrels a day.

Production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slipped 1,000 barrels to 31.295 million a day this month, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Last month's total was revised 267,000 barrels higher to 31.296 million a day, mostly because of a change to the Saudi estimate.

Brent for June settlement fell 24 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to US$65.60 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 9:22 am New York time. Brent, the benchmark for more than half the world's oil, touched US$66.72 on Wednesday, the highest since Dec 9.

Saudi Arabia, Opec's top producer, trimmed output by 100,000 barrels a day to 10 million this month. March output was revised 330,000 barrels a day higher to 10.1 million. The country sold oil at a higher-than-projected rate in March as a result of the biggest discounts in at least 15 years.

The oil market is in "excellent" condition, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's deputy oil minister, said Monday. Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi stressed earlier this month that the kingdom won't yield market share to higher-cost producers.

Opec ministers are scheduled to convene June 5 in Vienna.