UPDATE 1-North Sea oil output to fall in March

Thu Feb 7, 2013 10:18am 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.

Countering lower supply, shipments of Forties crude to South Korea, a specialised trade that supports prices, may drop in coming weeks due to maintenance at South Korean refineries, leaving more oil in northwest Europe looking for buyers.

"The reported loading schedules do suggest lower output in March and this should tighten the market," said Eugene Lindell, senior crude analyat at JBC Energy in Vienna. "On the other hand, the Forties arbitrage would seem to be less viable."   Continued...