Nigeria output falls in January

- Nigeria's crude oil production, including condensate and natural gas liquids fell 11.2 per cent in January 2002 reflecting the effects of Opec supply curbs, Nigerian central bank said in report yesterday.

The report on the economy for January said daily production of crude oil for the month dropped to 1.99 million bpd from 2.21 million bpd in December 2001. "The fall in output was due mainly to compliance with Opec's output quota, which was reduced by 0.124 mbd to 1.787 mbd in January from 1.911 mbd in December 2001," the central bank said.

Russia says it will not extend cuts

- Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter, will not extend cuts in its crude oil output after June, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said. "We're not going to maintain the limitation after the second quarter," Kudrin said in a speech to the U.S.-Russia Business Council.

"We are not planning to try and fight the trends in this area. We only wanted to soften the rapid drop (in oil prices)," he added without elaborating. His comments put further pressure on crude futures in London, where prices were already lower after Saudi Arabia reiterated that it would fill any supply shortage left by Iraq's output stoppage. "In the strategic sense, we do not plan to keep the limitations," Kudrin said.

Opec pumps above quota in March

- The Opec said yesterday that its 10 members with output restrictions pumped 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) above their agreed limits in March. Using secondary sources to estimate its own flow rates, the group said in its monthly oil market report that crude oil output excluding sanctions-bound Iraq stood at 22.915 million bpd, versus an official ceiling of 21.7 million.

Opec, which controls more than half of global oil exports, decided to keep production steady until the end of June in a ministerial meeting in Vienna on March 15. Total Opec production, including Iraq, rose 400,000 bpd in March to 25.396 million bpd, the report said.

Shell Gas Lanka stake may be sold

- The Sri Lankan government plans to sell its stake in Shell Gas Lanka Ltd as part of a fast-track privatisation drive, an official said yesterday. An official of the Public Enterprise Reform Commission said the state was seeking a manager to sell the 49 per cent stake the government holds to a single investor.

"We are hoping to do it as soon as possible," he said, without giving a specific timeframe. The Royal Dutch/Shell Group bought a 51 per cent stake in 1995. Royal Dutch/Shell said last year it is not looking to raise its stake in the liquefied petroleum gas distributor.

Gas Natural sales rise 17pc

- Gas Natural SDG SA said sales at its gas business by volume climbed 17 per cent in the first quarter, as it signed up more customers and as rivals paid to use its pipelines. The company sold gas representing 105,463 gigawatts of electricity, compared with 90,358 gigawatts a year earlier, Gas Natural said in a document sent to stock-market regulators.

The utility is benefiting from higher demand and from fees it charges rivals to send their gas through its pipes. That's offsetting the loss of some industrial clients to competitors as power generators and other companies are able to offer gas to big consumers as Spain opens its energy markets to competition.

Silva names new PDVSA board

- Venezuelan Energy and Mines Minister Alvaro Silva named a new board for the state oil company, replacing directors who resigned 11 days ago to end an eight-day strike that paralysed oil exports. Jorge Kamkoff, Jose Rafael Paz, Ludoviko Niklas, Nelson Nava, Clara Cloro, Arnoldo Rodriguez Ochoa and Hugo Hernandez Rafalli will be the new board members at Petroleos de Venezuela SA, Silva said at a news conference.

Opec Secretary General Ali Rodriguez, who on Friday accepted an offer from President Hugo Chavez to be PDVSA president, will also have a seat on the board. Rodriguez was Chavez's energy minister in 1999. "It's a board that looks to unify the entire workforce," Silva said.

Sri Lankan firm sees losses rising

- Sri Lanka's state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC) said yesterday it would add to its already massive losses over the next month despite hiking the local price of fuel this week. Since February, the government has allowed CPC to freely revise local prices of fuel under a new pricing formula that was expected to help the firm stem heavy losses incurred last year.

But the CPC - which currently has a monopoly on importing, refining and distributing oil - said in a statement a huge jump in international oil prices meant it would have to look at raising prices again next month.

Marathon profit falls sharply

- Integrated oil company Marathon Oil Co said yesterday first-quarter profits fell in line with sharp declines in crude oil and natural gas prices. Marathon reported a net profit of $67 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $500 million, or $1.62 per share for the first quarter of 2001.

Adjusted for special items, the Houston-based company reported a profit of $27 million, or 9 cents per share.