17:27 Sep. 10, 2016
Production fell by about 200,000 barrels, fueling push for Iran to cap output
OPEC crude-oil output fell to a three-month low in August, new preliminary data show, lending fuel to a drive by Saudi Arabia and its allies to persuade Iran to join a petroleum production freeze this month.
Amid a flurry of phone calls and behind-closed-door meetings from Paris to Moscow, officials from the big oil producers been citing the numbers to argue that the time has come to cap oil output after two years of slumping prices caused by a global glut. Crude prices on Friday were below a barrel, compared with 0 a barrel or more before the slump began in 2014.
The new data show that total production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries fell by about 200,000 barrels a day to 33 million barrels a day in August, its lowest level since May. The data were compiled this week by OPEC and are set to be released officially on Monday.
The Wall Street Journal reviewed preliminary data prepared for the report that are subject to change prior to publication.
The 14-nation cartel's production was led downward by output declines in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. Some OPEC officials are arguing that the data show countries are easing off record production levels and are ready to cooperate in a production freeze that could be orchestrated later this month at a conference in Algeria.
Meanwhile, the OPEC officials say, the new data show that Iran's production is stalling out at 3.6 million barrels a day, roughly the same level in August as in May. Iran has refused to join a freeze, saying it wants to go to above 4 million barrels a day from less than 3 million a day during sanctions, but a group of OPEC members say the new data confirm that it has already hit its output ceiling.