Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia, which led efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on a 800,000 barrel-per-day production cut in January, reduced its output by 350,000 barrels in the first month of the year compared with December, along with most other members.
Saudi Arabia produced 10.2 million barrels per day in January, and the output drop was by far the biggest production decline within the group, according to a new report from OPEC released on Tuesday. The second biggest cut was in United Arab Emirates production, which fell by 146,000 to nearly 3.1 million barrels per day, according to information attributed to secondary sources.
Of its 14 members, only Nigeria and Gabon posted production increases. Iran's January production, at 2.75 million barrels, was little changed from the previous month.
Venezuela saw a 59,000 barrel per day production decline to 1.106 barrels per day.
OPEC agreed on Dec. 7 to jointly reduce its monthly production starting in January by 800,000 barrels per day compared with November.
OPEC estimates that oil demand growth for this year will be just 1.24 million barrels per day to reach an average of 100 million barrels per day, slightly lower than the previous month's assessment due to lower economic expectations.
Just non-OPEC countries will increase output in 2019 by 2.18 million barrels per day to 64.34 million barrels per day, the organization projected. OPEC, which is making an effort to cut production to support prices, saw its output decline by 797,000 to average 30.81 million barrels per day in January.
The reduction appears to be a close match to the 800,000 barrel per day cut that the OPEC agreed in Dec. 7 in Vienna in a bid to support prices.
At the time, Saudi Arabia pushed other members of the group to contribute more to cuts but some countries facing particular situations, like Venezuela, Libya, or Iran received exemptions.
Venezuela's production declined due to what the Energy Information Administration described as mismanagement. The country's output in 2017 was 1.9 million barrels. It exceeded 3 million barrels per day in the 1990s. January saw the lowest monthly level since a strike paralyzed production about 15 years ago.
According to the OPEC report, U.S. refinery utilization rates decreased in January to average 92.6 percent, which corresponds to a throughput of 16.94 million barrels per day.
European refinery utilization in January averaged 83.3 percent, corresponding to a throughput of 10.44 million barrels per day.
In the "selected Asia" region that includes Japan, China, India and Singapore, refinery utilization rates declined averaging 79.21 percent in January, corresponding to a 21.8 million barrels per day throughputin the 1990s.