OPEC+ has set the bar very high, increasing production quotas by 400 kb/d every month since mid-2021. And while the group has consistently missed budgets, preliminary production surveys from January suggested the cartel had started to change things . With the official production stats released on Thursday, it appears the company hasn't actually turned things around.
The "OPEC 10", countries within OPEC but excluding Venezuela, Libya and Iran, had budgeted an increase in production of 254 kb/d in January. The remainder of the 400 kb/d quota is allocated to Russia and others. Survey results later in the month showed that OPEC 10 had increased production by 210 kb/d. Official results released today show that the increase was only 135 kb/d. The top 10 are now 748 kb/d below the self-imposed quotas.
Angola, a serial underperformer, saw production fall, with January volumes more than 250 kb/d below quota. Nigeria saw volumes surge up to 60 kb/d in January, resulting in the country producing less than just 285 kb/d. Perhaps most interestingly, Arabia fell 123 kb/d under budget in January.
Outside the core area, volumes from Libya and Venezuela fell while volumes from Iran increased. Overall, the volumes from the three countries fell by 33 kb/d month-on-month. Volume in Russia increased by 85 kb/d in January compared to the country's budgeted increase of 100 kb/d.
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There may be consensus that OPEC+ will set a lower quota in 2022; However, the extent of the group's underperformance is carefully monitored. With inventories falling rapidly, prices rising and the threat of war looming in Ukraine, it is hard to imagine balance sheets improving. This is particularly difficult when countries like Saudi Arabia cannot or do not want to ramp up production quickly from here.