Saudi oil exports plunge in March
Riyadh, May 19, 2013
Saudi crude exports fell to 7.42 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, 34,000 bpd less than in February, as Saudi power sector oil use rose and output edged lower, official figures released via the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) show.
The kingdom produced 9.136 million bpd of oil in March, 14,000 bpd less than in February, according to data published on Sunday by JODI.
It compensated for that with 19,742 bpd taken from storage, but a 74,000 bpd month-on-month rise in its oil use for power generation to 368,000 bpd in March left less to export.
Oil markets closely monitor changes in Saudi production because it is the only country with spare capacity to significantly alter output according to demand, although surges in Saudi demand over the last few summers have eaten into exports.
An industry source said in early May that crude output rose to 9.3 million bpd in April, but Saudi power sector use has risen by an average of 147,000 bpd from March to April in the last three years, which would effectively cancel out the rise in production in April 2013.
Saudi oil use for power generation surges from February to June as rising temperatures drive up demand for air-conditioning in a country which relies entirely on fossil fuels for power generation and does not have enough gas to satisfy peak power demand.
Saudi Arabia faces another summer of heavy crude burning for power generation, with little more gas available and demand for cooling rising each year.
Export figures for April will not be publicly available until JODI is updated in mid-June.-Reuters