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Regional

OPEC March output drops to a 16-month low

OPEC crude production slipped to a 16-month low in March as output in Nigeria dropped to the least in over three years, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Output in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined 70,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to an average 30.554 million barrels a day this month from a revised 30.624 million in February, the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts showed. Last month’s total was lowered by 75,000 barrels a day.

Nigeria’s production decreased 270,000 barrels to 1.81 million barrels a day in March, the lowest level since September 2009, the survey showed. Output is often disrupted by robbery and unrest in the Niger River delta, the country’s main oil-producing region.

Eni SpA stopped oil operations in the Bayelsa state swamp area in Nigeria because crude theft and sabotage reached “unsustainable” peaks of 60 percent of the company’s output, Eni said on March 26 in a statement. The closure will reduce supplies to the Brass River Export terminal, it said.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc ended a two-week force majeure on March 19 for crude exports from its Bonny oil terminal after repairs were completed following a leak on its Nembe Creek pipeline, a company spokesman said on March 22. Force majeure is a legal step that protects a company from liability when it can’t fulfill a contract for reasons beyond its control.

Saudi Arabia pumped 9 million barrels a day this month, unchanged from February. Output was down 900,000 barrels from August. Production in August and May reached 9.9 million barrels a day, the highest level since at least January 1989.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 29, 2013, on page 5.

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