OPEC: Steady Rise in Iran's Crude Output

OPEC: Steady Rise in Iran's Crude OutputOPEC: Steady Rise in Iran's Crude Output

Iran produced 3.629 million barrels of crude per day in July, marking a 12,000 bpd rise over its June output, OPEC said in its monthly report, citing secondary sources.

The report, released on Wednesday, shows that Iran has consistently ramped up oil production since January, when most financial and trade restrictions imposed over its nuclear program were lifted.

Iran's crude output averaged 3.09 million barrels a day in the first quarter of this year. It has boosted production by 533,000 bpd over the past six months, according to data provided by OPEC.

The country's output stood at 2.7 million to 2.8 million bpd in 2014 and 2015, when sanctions were still in place.

The 14-member organization on average pumped 33.11 million bpd in July, an increase of 46,000 bpd over the previous month. Oil output increased mostly from Iraq, while production in Nigeria showed the largest drop, the report said.

Iran is currently the third largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and de facto leader of the group, posted a record output of 10.67 million bpd in July, followed by Iraq that produced 4.6 million bpd, OPEC said, citing the data provided by the Saudi and Iraqi sources.

Iran was also the fourth-biggest crude supplier to China in July. The world's second-largest economy took in an average of 7.5 million bpd last month, with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Angola being the top crude oil suppliers to China in June, accounting for 18%, 13% and 10%, respectively.

Tehran is pressing on plans to recoup the market share it lost to rival producers under the spell of sanctions. It pumped around 4 million bpd in 2011, before the US and EU enforced tighter restrictions.

------- Lower Prices

Iran's main oil export grade Iran Heavy traded at $41.68 per barrel in July, settling $3.09 lower, the report said. Oil futures for all other grades in the OPEC Reference Basket also lost value in monthly trade.

OPEC attributed the fall to refiners who bumped up production and added more barrels last month to the oversupplied market, adding that "overhang of gasoline in storage amid what should have been a top seasonal demand period put downward pressure on crude and refined product prices."

On a monthly basis, the ORB decreased $3.16 to $42.68 per barrel, on average, down 6.9%.

Oil continued its winning streak on Friday after gaining more than 4% on Thursday.

International Brent crude oil futures were trading at $46.40 per barrel, up 36 cents, or 0.8%, and earlier hitting a three-week high at $46.66. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $43.98 a barrel, up 49 cents, or 1.1%, and touching their highest since July 25 at $44.17.