Saudi Arabia Tops Russia as Oil Exports Hit 8-Year High

Saudi Arabia exported more crude oil in September than in any month since November 2005, according to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative.

The desert kingdom shipped 7.84 million barrels a day, more than any other nation and up from a daily rate of 7.8 million for August, statistics posted on the JODI website yesterday show. Saudi Arabia produced 10.12 million barrels a day of crude in September, exceeding Russia’s output of 10.08 million barrels a day, according to JODI data. The figures for both countries include condensates while excluding natural gas liquids.

Russia’s Energy Ministry reported separately on Oct. 25 that the nation’s output of crude and condensates for September was 10.53 million barrels a day, a level at which Russia, not Saudi Arabia, would be the world’s biggest producer.

JODI is supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum and compiles data provided by member governments. The IEF’s member states, including the U.S. and China, account for more than 90 percent of global supply and consumption of oil and natural gas. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest crude exporter and the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil.

Iraq Cuts

OPEC members Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, Qatar, Nigeria, Angola and the United Arab Emirates all reduced crude shipments in September from August, while Algeria and Ecuador shipped more, according to JODI. Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, cut exports by 20 percent to 2.07 million barrels a day, the data showed. Iran, hampered by sanctions on its energy and financial industries, and Libya, where armed militia are challenging the government’s authority, were the group’s only members that didn’t submit statistics for either month.

Saudi Arabia out-produced Russia in September for the second consecutive month, even as it pumped 70,000 barrels a day less crude than in August, according to JODI data. The two countries, together with the U.S., will vie for leadership in global production as booming output from North American shale formations changes oil flows. The U.S. will be the world’s largest oil producer by 2015, if natural gas liquids and condensates are included in the tally, and remain so until the 2030s, the International Energy Agency forecast in a Nov. 12 annual report.

Burning Crude

The kingdom burned 658,000 barrels a day of crude in power plants to generate electricity in September, less than in August and down also from 12 months earlier, JODI data showed.

Saudi refineries processed 1.51 million barrels a day of crude in September compared with 1.55 million in August and 1.68 million a year ago, the data showed.

Saudi Arabia boosted its October crude exports by 300,000 barrels a day from September even as it produced less, according to a person with knowledge of the kingdom’s output policy. The country increased the proportion of exports as cooler weather and greater gas supply enabled it to use less crude for electricity generation, the person said on Nov. 11. Power consumption peaks in the hot summer months when the need for air-conditioning surges.

Saudi Arabia’s crude production fell to 9.75 million barrels a day in October, down from 10.12 million a day in September, this person said. Some 50,000 barrels a day went into storage last month, while 9.7 million barrels a day was split between exports and local consumption, the person said, without providing further detail.

The October drop in Saudi output was in line with a seasonal reduction in local demand for crude to produce electricity, the IEA said in its monthly report on Nov. 14. Greater use this year of gas and fuel oil at Saudi power plants “may reduce crude burned in power plants below historical levels,” the IEA said.

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