15/04/2012 22:33 AST

OPEC’s crude oil production rose to the most in more than three years in March as Iraq boosted output and offset a decline in Iranian supply, according to the International Energy Agency.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 31.43 million barrels a day of crude last month, up from a revised 31.29 million in February, the Paris- based IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report. That exceeds the group’s 30 million output ceiling set in December.

“Increased output by Iraq, Libya, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates more than offset declines in Iran, Angola and Nigeria,” the IEA said. The advance counters “exceptionally reduced non-OPEC supplies” in Sudan, Syria, Yemen, the North Sea, Canada and Australia, the agency said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, maintained production close to a three-decade peak at 10 million barrels a day in March, unchanged from the previous month, the agency said.

“The kingdom is well placed to meet incremental global refiner demand from May onwards after April’s seasonal low in throughputs,” the IEA said. “Output is expected to trend higher over the next few months judging by customer nominations and tanker loading forecasts.”

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