The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) produce an average of 31.26 million barrels/day of crude oil in March according to a survey of analyst, industry executives, and OPEC officials conducted by Reuters. That’s the highest production total for the cartel since October 2008, and about 100,000 barrels/day higher than the February production total.
The return of Libyan crude is the driving force behind the increase, but Iraqi production is also rising. The impact of the US-led sanctions against Iran appears also to be having an effect, as Iranian exports have fallen.
March’s total is well above OPEC’s target production level of 30 million barrels/day:
Output remains substantially above OPEC’s target, the survey found, and higher than the group’s own estimate of demand for its crude in 2012, suggesting there is no shortage of supply.
Perhaps that is true, but the fears of a crude supply shortage continue to keep pump prices high. The question is how long OPEC can — or will remain willing to — produce at this rate.