Saudi cranks up June oil output, Iran slumps - OPEC

LONDON Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:41am BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia ramped up output to record rates in June despite a big drop in oil prices as Iranian production sank to its lowest in more than 20 years, OPEC said on Wednesday.

Riyadh said it pumped 10.1 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 300,000 bpd on May, according to a monthly report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Iran's output slumped by almost 190,000 bpd to 2.96 million bpd, according to secondary sources, OPEC said, allowing former rival Iraq to overtake it as the 12-member group's second biggest producer after Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh's high production underlines the kingdom's aim to support the world economy despite a fall in crude prices in June to below $90 (57.81 pounds) a barrel from near $130 in March.

Industry sources expect Saudi flows to drop below the 10 million bpd mark this month due to reduced demand from Asia.

In addition to the 10.1 million bpd pumped from Saudi oilfields, Riyadh also topped up supplies in June with about 200,000 bpd from storage, an industry source told Reuters.

At the same time, Iran's supply dropped sharply as the European Union embargo that took effect on July 1 further limited its production.

Iran did not submit its own production figures to OPEC for June, the first time it has not done so this year. In May, it reported an output figure of 3.76 million bpd, 600,000 bpd above estimates from secondary sources.

Iran acknowledged for the first time last month that exports had fallen sharply. Tehran has been reluctant to release information about its production and exports as international sanctions have taken hold.

Western sanctions are forcing Iran to take action and shut off wells at its oilfields, reducing production to levels last seen more than two decades ago and costing Tehran billions in lost revenues.

Total OPEC oil production averaged 31.36 million bpd in June, a drop of 106,000 bpd on the previous month, according to the secondary sources. Riyadh pumped 9.89 million bpd, up a shade on May, they said.

OPEC is pumping nearly 1.4 million bpd above its official ceiling of 30 million bpd despite agreeing to stick to that target at a June 14 meeting.

(Reporting by Peg Mackey; Editing by Christopher Johnson)

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