Opec crude production hit a new record of 33.05mn b/d in July, surpassing January’s previous record by some 300,000 b/d as Saudi Arabia keeps true to its policy of prioritizing market share, recording its 16th consecutive month of 10mn b/d-plus output. Year-to-date Opec output production is 700,000 b/d up on last year, primarily due to gains from Iraq and post-sanctions Iran, and a new record output looks inevitable despite major unplanned outages in a number of Opec countries.

Gabon’s return to the Opec fold took effect from 1 July, while Nigeria’s Muhammed Barkindo replaced ‘Abd Allah al-Badri as the group’s Secretary General on 1 August. Both developments were agreed on at the last Opec meeting on 2 June when rising oil prices minimized dissent over the Saudi-led strategy of maximizing output. But with Brent prices falling $3.39/B in July, Mr Barkindo may face a growing struggle to maintain a semblance of unity if the slide continues. (CONTINUED - 879 WORDS)