Saudi Oil Output Falls to 19-Month Low as Exports Decline

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output fell in December to a 19-month low as shipments from OPEC's biggest producer dropped for a third month and domestic consumption decreased, the Joint Organisations Data Initiative said.

The kingdom exported 7.06 million barrels of crude a day in December, the least since September 2011, JODI reported, citing statistics the government submitted to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Exports were 1.3 percent lower than the previous month. Production dropped 4.8 percent in the month to 9.03 million barrels a day.

Saudi Arabia, which burns oil to produce electricity and desalinate water, is seeking to increase use of natural gas as a substitute fuel. By doing so, the government plans to free up more crude for sale overseas, where the commodity can sell at higher prices than it does at home.

The kingdom burned 303,000 barrels a day at power plants in December, the lowest level in 10 months, according to the data. That is 29 percent less than what it burned a year ago.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, stored 276.6 million barrels of crude within its borders in December compared with 278.9 million a month earlier, the data show. Refineries processed 1.73 million barrels a day during the month, down by 44,000 barrels a day from November.

JODI, supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum, uses statistics supplied by national governments to compile data on production, imports and exports for oil-producing and consuming nations. The data include crude oil and condensates and exclude natural gas liquids.

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