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UAE, Saudi raise oil output

Oil prices have rallied to near $100 this month and were trading just below $98 on Friday (FILE)

By Reuters

Opec output has risen in January to the highest since December 2008, a Reuters survey found on Friday, suggesting oil prices near $100 a barrel are encouraging the group to pump more oil.

The supply increase from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be welcomed by consumer nations concerned about the impact of rising oil costs on inflation and economic growth.

Supply from all 12 members of Opec has averaged 29.49 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, up from 29.14 million bpd in December, the survey of oil companies, Opec officials and analysts found.

A surge in exports from Iraq, where oil companies such as BP and Italy's ENI have been working to boost output and which is not subject to Opec output limits, was the main driver of the increase in supply.

The survey also found Saudi Arabia and the UAE boosted supply -- the first sign in Reuters surveys of extra barrels from the two Gulf producers which, together with Kuwait, hold most of Opec's idle output capacity.

Oil prices have rallied to near $100 this month and were trading just below $98 on Friday.

Opec officials have said there is enough oil in the market and said there is no need for the group to meet to review policy before its next scheduled gathering in June.

"I'm sure 100 per cent when looking at the markets there is no shortage in the market, there is plenty of oil in the market," Opec Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Badri told Reuters in Davos on Thursday.

Opec, source of two in every five barrels of oil, has not officially changed its output policy for more than two years since cutting its output by 4.2 million bpd in December 2008 as prices fell and demand crumbled due to recession.

Output discipline reached record levels of 80 per cent in the early months of 2009 but has since declined as producers found, with world demand recovering, they could pump extra oil without depressing prices.

The survey found that the 11 members of Opec bound by the 2008 supply cut -- all except Iraq -- completed 53 per cent of the reduction in January, compared with 55 per cent in December.