OPEC's oil output fell for the fourth month, Saudi Arabia pressed to curb production in order to balance global markets and the economic crisis in Venezuela intensified.
Despite pressure from US President Donald Trump to keep the oil flow and contain the price increase, Saudis and other members of the cartel remain determined to restrict production to avoid over-
The kingdom reduced output to a four-year low, reaching 9.82 million barrels per day in March, according to a Bloomberg survey of authorities, analysts and ship-tracking data. Production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) dropped by 295,000 barrels per day to 30,385 million barrels per day.
Saudis and other Gulf producers continue to slow production, even with the problems in Venezuela, an OPEC member country, where the financial crisis is steadily intensifying – in addition to US sanctions – and has hit the oil industry.
Earlier this year, the cartel and its allies – which include non-members such as Russia and Kazakhstan – began a new wave of production cuts as a flood of US shale oil and fragile global demand for fuel threatened a surplus
Moderation caused a decline in supply, pushing oil prices up 32 percent in New York in the first quarter, the strongest start of the raw material in a year since 2002.
This provoked further criticism of President Trump late last month. He went on Twitter for the second time this year to ask OPEC to reverse its policy of reducing output. The group so far ignored their calls.
March data indicate that the 11 OPEC members involved in the agreement collectively cut production by 30 percent more than needed.
However, the additional effort was driven almost entirely by Saudi Arabia, the largest member of the group, which reduced production by 280,000 barrels per day to the lowest level since February 2015. The kingdom reduced production by more than double the value promised by the December agreement.
Saudi Arabia's commitment is offsetting the delay in compliance by some members, especially Nigeria, which is boosting exports as operations increase in a new oil field, Aegina.
At a meeting of OPEC and its allies in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku last month, Nigeria – along with other itinerant producers, such as Iraq and Kazakhstan – began the committee overseeing the implementation of the agreement. Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said he was certain all the producers of the agreement would keep their promises.
However, March data indicate that Nigeria has not yet improved its results: the African country has increased production again, this time at 90,000 barrels per day for a three-year high of 1.92 million per day.
Non-compliance by Nigeria and Iraq is being more than offset by Venezuela, which was exempt from the pact of deliberately reducing supply because its unplanned losses were very extreme.
Production in the Latin American nation, which was affected by widespread power outages last month and faces US sanctions. for oil sales, sank more than 180,000 barrels per day, reaching 890,000 per day. This is the smallest since production was paralyzed by a labor strike in 2003.