Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports surged to a 21-month high of 7.701 million b/d in October, the latest figures from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative show, as the kingdom boosted its supplies to the market ahead of the US’ reimposition of sanctions on Iran.
The October figure was a 268,000 b/d rise from September and the highest since January 2017’s 7.713 million b/d, in the first month that OPEC instituted its production cuts, according to the JODI data.
Refinery runs in OPEC’s largest producer rose to 2.815 million b/d in October, up 189,000 b/d from September, while direct crude burn for power generation decreased to 333,000 b/d, down 203,000 b/d.
Combining the exports, refinery runs and crude burn figures indicated that Saudi Arabia supplied 10.849 million b/d to the market in October.
That was above its production of 10.642 million b/d, necessitating a 207,000 b/d draw from crude in storage.
The stock draw was the kingdom’s 10th monthly drawdown in 11 months, with Saudi inventories ending the month at 217.380 million barrels, down 15.1% year-on-year, according to the JODI data.
Saudi Arabia reported to OPEC earlier this month that its November crude production hit an all-time high of 11.1 million b/d, and a source familiar with Saudi operations told S&P Global platts that total Saudi crude oil supplies to the market in November were 11.3 million b/d.
That is likely the final month of the kingdom’s ramp-up, as Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said at the meeting that his country’s output would fall to about 10.2 million b/d in December.
The country since June has significantly raised its production and exports under pressure from the US to keep the market well-supplied ahead of the November 5 reimposition of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sales. But with the US issuing waivers to eight countries to continue buying Iranian oil through May 5 and forecasts of weakening market fundamentals ahead, OPEC, Russia and nine other allies earlier this month in Vienna agreed to slash production by a combined 1.2 million b/d for the first six months of 2019 to shore up the oil market.
Saudi oil product exports rose to 2.069 million b/d in October, up from 1.976 million b/d in September, the JODI figures showed.
Refinery output fell to 2.630 million b/d in October from 2.848 million b/d in September, according to JODI.
The JODI database, maintained by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum, comprises self-reported oil figures from 114 countries.