OPEC sees tighter 2019 market as Nigeria, others defy cuts

Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has forecast a much tighter market in 2019, and has seen its production fall significantly this year, led by curbs to Saudi Arabian output along with dramatic, involuntary declines from sanctions-hit Venezuela.

Last month, total OPEC-14 preliminary crude oil production averaged 30.02 million barrels per day (mb/d), a decrease of 534,000b/d over the previous month. Crude oil output decreased mostly in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, and IR Iran, while production increased in Libya, Congo and Nigeria.Demand for OPEC crude in 2018 averaged 31.35 million b/d.

According to secondary sources, Nigeria recorded 1.73mb/d, while S&P Global Platts survey puts the nation’s output at 1.84mbpd from 1.88million b/d in February.The reported output is about 0.5mbpd lower than Federal Government key’s assumptions and micro-framework for the 2019 budget based on a projection of 2.3mbpd oil production, oil price benchmark of $60pb and exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.

Though oil prices like the Brent Crude and Nigeria’s Bonny Light traded above $71 yesterday, Nigeria needs to ramp up production albeit the agreed OPEC cuts to meet its fiscal responsibilities.In its monthly oil market report, OPEC estimates demand for its crude to average 30.30 million b/d in 2019, a fall of 1.05 million b/d on the year, signifying that oil inventories are going to decline sharply, pointing to a very tight market. But it said that the market remains oversupplied and warned of slowing demand growth.

Oil prices have recovered sharply since December, when they fell to a 15-month low, and ICE Brent has been trading a five-month high of above $71/b this week.OPEC revised demand growth down in 2019 to 1.21 million b/d due to “slower-than-expected economic activity.”

Global oil demand is estimated to average 99.91 million b/d this year, compared with 98.70 million b/d in 2018OPEC said. The group pegged 2018 global oil demand growth at 1.41 million b/d.OPEC also revised down non-OPEC oil supply growth in 2019 by 60,000 b/d “due to extended maintenance in Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Canada.”

The U.S., Brazil, Russia, UK, Australia, Ghana, Sudan and South Sudan, will be the main drivers of supply growth this year, with U.S. crude production to rise by 1.46 million b/d in 2019 to 12.42 million b/d.“The highest incremental production is expected in the Gulf Coast, albeit at a slower pace compared to a year ago due to the pipeline constraints in Permian Basin,” it added.

Venezuela reported a production figure of 960,000 b/d, down by a massive 472,000 b/d, as power outages and U.S. sanctions cripple the South American oil producer.Saudi Arabia’s crude output fell 289,000 b/d in March, to average 9.79 million b/d, according to an average of the six secondary sources that OPEC uses to gauge production.

The kingdom also self-reported production of 9.79 million b/d, its lowest since January 2017 and a fall of 350,000 b/d month on month. That is much below its quota of 10.31 million b/d under the cut agreement.The kingdom has decreased production by 1.30 million b/d since November when it pumped a record-high of 11.09 million b/d.

At the last OPEC meeting in Vienna, the group’s members agreed to slash output by 812,000 b/d, with Russia and nine other non-OPEC allies committing to a cut of 383,000 b/d for the first six months of 2019.Iraq’s production fell marginally to 4.52 million b/d in March, slightly above its quota of 4.51 million b/d, according to OPEC secondary sources.

In Iran, hit by U.S. sanctions, output was slight down, falling 28,000 b/d to 2.70 million b/d in March.Fellow exempt member Libya pumped 1.098 million b/d in March, up 196,000 b/d from the previous month, but output remains at risk as the country is on the brink of a possible civil war.

A key metric for the deal has been to lower oil inventories below the five-year average. OPEC said it has made some progress toward achieving this goal.OECD commercial oil inventories fell to 2.63 billion barrels in February and were only 7.5 million barrels above the five-year average, according to OPEC’s report. In December, stocks were 28 million barrels above the five-year average, showing that the producer group has made progress in balancing the market.Also, U.S. total commercial oil stocks fell by 15.6 million barrels to stand at 1.229 billion barrels in March, according to preliminary data.