Wellhead crude oil production in the 12 OPEC states rose by 2.9 per cent in 1993 to an average of just under 25 million barrels a day (b/d), according to estimates published by the New York-based Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW). In contrast, total world oil production fell by 500,000 b/d to 66 million b/d in the year, PIW says.

The newsletter adds that non-OPEC crude oil production is set to rise significantly in 1994, intensifying pressure on world oil prices, which fell by about 30 per cent in 1993. It projects North Sea crude oil production rising to almost 5.2 million b/d on average in the year ahead from just under 4.5 million b/d in 1993.

Analysts are pessimistic about the possibility that OPEC will hold a price-bolstering meeting in the first quarter of the year. The Nicosia weekly Middle East Economic Survey reported on 24 January that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states were refusing to trim oil output and that they might not cut production after March when the present oil production agreement comes to an end. This set a ceiling for combined OPEC oil production at 24.52 million b/d (MEED 8:10:93).