Saudi oil exports, output fall in Dec
Dubai, February 18, 2013
Saudi crude exports fell for the third month running in December, but the fall in shipments was less dramatic than the drop in oil production, official data showed.
Exports fell by 92,000 barrels a day (bpd) to 7.062 million bpd, compared to a 467,000 bpd drop in oil production from November to December, according to the official data from the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI).
Over the last two months of last year, the world's top oil exporter cut production by around 700,000 bpd while exports fell by 216,000 bpd on weaker demand.
The more dramatic drop in production than in exports reflects a drop in Saudi Arabia's own oil use and crude being taken from storage in December, in contrast to a 5.816 million barrel stock build in November, JODI data shows.
Oil markets closely monitor changes in Saudi production because it is the only country with enough spare capacity to significantly increase output to meet increases in demand.
The country burnt an average of 303,000 bpd of crude in power plants in December, some 64,000 bpd less than in November and 29 percent less than the 424,000 bpd used in December 2011.
Crude use by Saudi refineries also fell, by 44,000 bpd, from November to December, while the kingdom took an average of around 73,000 bpd from stocks to top up supplies.
Saudi production in December was more than a million barrels below its peak of last summer, when the kingdom's own oil use soars to meet rising air conditioning demand.
The drop in Saudi oil burning for power generation in December also comes after new gas fields came online in mid-2012.
Although official figures will not be available on JODI until March, an industry source has said that Saudi output edged up to 9.05 million bpd in January, with added stock withdrawals helping supply the market with a total of 9.26 million bpd. -Reuters