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OPEC, partners agree to small increase in oil production in March

OPEC, partners agree to small increase in oil production in March
The OPEC logo as seen at the Palace Congress building during the International Energy Forum in Algiers, Algeria, on September 28, 2016. OPEC and its partners agreed to increase oil production in March. File Photo by Mohamed Messara/EPA-EFE

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- OPEC and its oil-producing partners said Wednesday they will move ahead with plans for a small increase oil output in March as crude prices are hovering at high levels.

The decision to increase production was made at the end of OPEC's ministerial meeting, which was held virtually over the past two days. The crude alliance said it will increase production by 400,000 barrels per day starting next month.

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OPEC, which is led by Saudi Arabia, along with strategic partner Russia cut production in April 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic raged around the world and countries lowered their use of petroleum at record levels.

"While the steady rise in supply could see a significant surplus materialize in [the first quarter of 2022] and going forward, available data suggest that 2022 is starting off with global oil inventories well below pre-pandemic levels," said the International Energy Agency's January oil market report.

Major oil-consuming countries like the United States had been pushing OPEC for greater production increases to reduce oil prices around the world.

"There are concerns in the market, partly priced in, that OPEC+ will not be able to produce what they say in the future," Bjornar Tonhaugen, of Rystad Energy, told CNN. "There is anxiety about damage to production capacity from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and Russia, from too low investments during the pandemic and before."

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