North Sea oil output to fall in March

Thu Feb 7, 2013 9:06am EST
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* Output to fall on maintenace, upward Feb revisions

* Flotta programme yet to emerge for March

* February's total on course to be highest since June

By Alex Lawler

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - North Sea oil output is set to fall by at least 10 percent in March from February partly due to maintenance at Britain's largest oilfield, which may lend support to Brent oil prices.

Output from 11 of the 12 crude streams tracked by Reuters will average 1.83 million barrels per day (bpd) based on the latest loading schedules compiled on Thursday, down from 2.08 million bpd for all 12 in February.

Swings in output from the North Sea can have a significant impact on world prices because the region is home to the dated Brent benchmark, used to price much of the world's physical oil and part of the underlying market for Brent futures.

Brent is based on four crude oils: Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk (BFOE). They are set to pump around 871,000 bpd in March, loading programmes showed, down from an upwardly-revised rate in February of 986,000 bpd.

"The lower output in March should provide some support for Brent prices," said analysts at JBC Energy in Vienna.   Continued...