Most OPEC+ members increased oil exports in February despite pledges by the cartel to keep supply steady.
Research by Kpler, which tracks commodities data, shows seaborne oil exports increased to 26.8 million barrels per day (mbd) last month, up by 757 thousand barrels per day (kbd) compared to January.
The price of oil surged at the beginning of the year after Saudi Arabia volunteered to cut an extra 1 mbd of crude output in February.
However, the kingdom’s exports only fell by 194 kbd while its domestic inventories fell by just 3.3 mb, according to Kpler.
It suggest Aramco “did not entirely follow suit” on the Saudi Minister of Energy’s production pledge, although exports did begin to weaken at the end of last month.
The largest declines in January were seen in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea and the UAE, down a combined 666 kbd month on month, although Kpler said its final estimate for Iran may change.
Most cartel members took advantage of the higher prices, driven by returning demand for oil, and boosted exports in February, particularly those with a higher breakeven such as Iraq or Nigeria.
Kazakhstan, which was allowed to increase production by 10 kbd as per its February quota, exported almost 350 kbd more during the month.
The increase is predicted to comprise 1 mbd from Saudi Arabia, bringing an end to its voluntary production cuts for February and March, and 0.5 mbd from the rest of OPEC+.
According to Kpler, lower compliance and higher prices could raise new issues for the cartel, particularly between Russia on one side, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the other.
The data intelligence firm said: “The latter two are likely to be more cautious and willing to continue the hard work until excess inventories is gone, while Russia, which enjoys a much lower fiscal breakeven price, is concerned about higher prices that could stimulate competition from US shale players.
“All eyes remain set on global oil inventories. While these have drawn 76 mb in the past three months, the pace of this decline is now weakening and the curve is flattening: since the beginning of the year, oil held in onshore storage has only drawn 17.5 mb and we are even 12.5 mb higher compared to end-January. In addition, inventories are still higher 150 mb higher y/y, showing the act of rebalancing isn’t over yet.”