OPEC Raises Oil Output in October : Reuters Survey

OPEC raised oil production last month in response to record-high prices above $90 a barrel and in advance of a formal deal to lift supply, a Reuters survey showed on Friday.

OPEC's 10 members bound by output targets, all except Iraq and Angola, pumped 26.98 million barrels per day, up 180,000 bpd from September, according to the survey of oil firms, traders, OPEC officials and analysts.

The survey indicates that OPEC may be relaxing adherence to supply curbs in response to a jump in oil prices, which hit a record high of $96.24 on Thursday. Despite rising OPEC output, prices may still head higher, analysts say.

"I see no reason why we won't hit $100," said Paul Tossetti, director of market analysis at Washington-based PFC Energy. "It seems all the elements are in place to reach it. All we need is a couple of unexpected events."

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of more than a third of the world's oil, agreed in September to raise production by 500,000 bpd from Nov. 1 in a gesture to consumer countries worried about record prices.

Analysts have called the move too little, too late, but OPEC oil ministers insist that crude supply is adequate and blame other factors, such as speculators, political tension and a weak U.S. dollar for the price surge.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's top producer, lifted supply to 8.8 million bpd from 8.7 million bpd in September, the survey found.

An OPEC source told Reuters on Oct. 17 that output in November will rise to about 9 million bpd.

Overall output from the 12-member OPEC climbed to 31.02 million bpd on higher shipments from Iraq and Angola.

Other, smaller increases came from members including Iran, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the survey found.

Iraq, Angola

Iraqi output is expected to increase to 2.29 million bpd this month, up about 120,000 bpd from September.

Exports are rising because the country is exporting some Kirkuk crude from its northern fields, shipments that have remained sporadic since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

The survey found that Iraq exported 1.84 million bpd in October, the highest rate since at least September 2004, according to Reuters estimates.

Angolan output, on a rising trend as new fields come on stream, climbed to 1.75 million bpd from 1.69 million bpd as BP's new Plutonio field started output.

The country, OPEC's newest member, is expected to receive an OPEC supply target from Jan. 1.

OPEC's output boost followed months of calls for more oil from top consumer the United States and the International Energy Agency that represents 26 industrialized nations.

The deal, in theory, reverses most of the 1.7 million bpd of supply curbs agreed by the group since October 2006 because the OPEC 10 were already pumping above their nominal ceiling.