Saudis Raised Oil Sales to 10-Month High Before Agreeing to Cap

  • World’s No. 1 exporter shipped 7.84m barrels a day in January
  • Other major OPEC producers also boosted shipments during month

Oil Rises on News of Output Talks

Saudi Arabia boosted oil exports to a 10-month high in January, just weeks before provisionally agreeing to freeze production as brimming global stockpiles continued to keep crude prices low.

The world’s biggest oil exporter shipped 7.84 million barrels a day, up from 7.49 million a day in December, according to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative, an oil industry group overseen by the International Energy Forum. That’s the most since last March, when it shipped 7.89 million barrels a day.

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar tentatively agreed Feb. 16 to cap production at January levels in a step toward clearing the global oil glut. Their commitment depends on the cooperation of other producers, about 15 of whom have confirmed they’ll attend a meeting in Doha on April 17, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Wednesday.

Brent crude has slid about 50 percent since Saudi Arabia led a 2014 decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries not to cut output in order to defend market share and drive out higher-cost producers. The benchmark grade has rebounded about 33 percent since the Feb. 16 agreement and traded around $40.90 a barrel on Thursday.

Saudi Output

Saudi Arabia pumped 10.23 million barrels a day in January, up from 10.14 million in December, the JODI figures showed Thursday. The Kingdom’s output has exceeded 10 million barrels a day for 11 consecutive months. The freeze accord would cap only production and not exports.

Other major OPEC producers such as Iran, Iraq and Kuwait also increased shipments in January, the JODI data showed.

Iran, which reached an agreement with world powers early this year to lift sanctions on its crude exports, expanded shipments by 120,000 barrels a day during the month. The country has refused to join any freeze deal until it restores production to pre-sanctions levels.

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