Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Monitoring oil exports may add another layer of support to the OPEC-led effort to balance an oversupplied market, a director at a vessel tracking firm said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak kicked off a five-day energy conference in Moscow and St. Petersburg this week with suggestions that oil exports from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member states may be monitored.
"This is a new instrument, which has not been clearly formed yet," he was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.
Russia is party to a committee monitoring overall compliance to an agreement enacted in January that was designed to drain the five-year surplus in global crude oil inventories with managed production declines.
Matt Smith, the director of commodity research at ClipperData, which tracks global crude oil movements from vessel to dock, told UPI the additional protocol would add another layer of accountability.
"Monitoring exports seems a sensible path forward, given disparities between reported OPEC/non-OPEC production changes and what we have seen in terms of exports this year," he said. "It also makes sense that Russia is backing this proposal, as they have dialed back on their exports in recent months, indicating compliance."
Russia is cutting more oil production than it agreed to under the OPEC-led arrangement. Data from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts show total Russian oil production for August was down 337,000 barrels per day from the 11.24 million barrels per day in October, the month that OPEC uses to gauge compliance.
Smith added that it "raises suspicions" when a country reports a decline in production, but exports are increasing.
From OPEC members, Iraq reported total exports for September from the South Oil Co. averaged 3.2 million barrels per day. Data was from oil produced in "the middle and south" of Iraq, with no registration from northern Iraqi territory. The semiautonomous Kurdish north exports about 300,000 barrels per day from a pipeline to a Turkish port.
September exports were slightly higher for Iraq than the previous month. Iraq reported to OPEC economists that total production in August was 4.38 million barrels per day, a slight decline from the previous month.
Industry and trade sources said it may require a third party to monitor crude oil exports effectively. The U.S. Energy Information Administration publishes weekly data on domestic crude oil exports from the United States and imports from top exporters to its market. The Joint Organizations Data Initiative publishes export metrics, though the most recent data are from July.