A senior OPEC official based in the Middle East said the cartel's ministerial meeting on 15 September might raise its formal oil output ceiling closer to its actual supply.

 

A Reuters survey showed that cartel members, already pumping near 25-year highs, raised supply again in August as higher output from Saudi Arabia countered disruption from sabotage attacks in Iraq.   

 

Total output from the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) last month rose 100,000 bpd to 29.6 million bpd, the survey of consultants, shippers, industry and OPEC sources showed.

 

Thursday's sabotage in Iraq
disrupted northern oil supplies

The OPEC cartel has said it is doing all it can to control prices, which are being driven by soaring world demand and attacks on oil pipelines in Iraq.

 

Price drops

 

Meanwhile, US light crude  on Friday fell 16 cents to $43.90 a barrel, after settling six cents higher a day earlier. London Brent futures fell 12 cents to $41.45 per barrel.

   

New York prices are now up about 70 cents this week, having regained some upward momentum after a sharp correction from August 20's $49.40 record high.

   

Dealers said there was little news driving the market, and that some investors were using the lull to take profits from a sharp move up on Wednesday, made after US inventory data showed a sharp draw on crude stockpiles.

 

Wary

   

"We need to see a real downward revision to global growth for the market to turn bearish" 

Michael Lewis,
head, commodities research,
Deutsche Bank, London

Analysts were wary of calling an end to oil's bull run, which has added about 36% to NYMEX prices this year.

   

"The factors that we have seen driving this rally are still in place," said Michael Lewis, head of commodities research at Deutsche Bank in London.

   

"We need to see a real downward revision to global growth for the market to turn bearish."

   

Thursday's attack on Iraq's northern oil export network, the fiercest yet, halted export pumping. Fire was still raging on the northern pipeline after it was attacked around 70 km southwest of the oil centre of Kirkuk.

   

Iraqi officials said the resulting fire would take two days to douse. Exports through the pipeline were halted until further notice.