OPEC crude oil production averaged 30.392mn b/d in March, according to MEES estimates. This was 14,000 b/d lower than in February and 1.154mn b/d down on March 2012. The month-on-month decline can largely be attributed to weaker demand in Asia, where refiners have been undertaking seasonal maintenance. The year-on-year slide reflects continuing global economic gloom and competition from other sources, including North American shale oil.

Crude oil demand is recovering in Asia, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Naimi told reporters on 1 April. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Qatar, Mr Naimi said that he expected external demand for Saudi crude to rise over the coming months, but that it “remains to be seen” by how much. With Asian demand rallying, Gulf producers are also likely to see increasing domestic demand for crude for power generation during the summer months. (CONTINUED - 891 WORDS)