Oil supplies from OPEC sank by half a million barrels a day in March, hitting a four-year low, as Saudi Arabia continued to slash output and Venezuela’s production plunged amid ongoing economic crisis.
The headline OPEC output was the lowest since February 2015, when the group pumped 29.97 million bpd, though its membership has changed several times since then.
Much of the March decline is due to Saudi Arabia’s willingness to aggressively cut production. In March, the Saudis took another 324,000 bpd off the market, bringing output to just under 9.8 million bpd and delivering on Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih’s vow to pump well below 10 million bpd.
Saudi output has now fallen by about 1.3 million bpd from its all-time high at 11.1 million in November, when the kingdom’s production surged to offset U.S. energy sanctions on OPEC-member Iran.
The terminal decline in Venezuelan output continues to help OPEC+ cut global oil supplies. Following a series of blackouts that disrupted oil operations, Venezuela’s production plunged by 289,000 bpd to 732,000 bpd in March.
Venezuela, already mired in a years-long economic crisis, is now grappling with U.S. sanctions against state-owned oil giant PDVSA and a political standoff between socialist leader Nicolas Maduro and opposition figure Juan Guaido.