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Saudi Nov crude oil exports highest in two years: JODI

London — Saudi Arabia in November exported its highest volumes of crude oil in two years, the latest figures from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative showed Monday, as the kingdom boosted its supplies to offset the reimposition of sanctions on Iran by the US.

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Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, shipped 8.235 million b/d of crude in November, a 534,000 b/d increase from October.

It was the highest level of exports for the kingdom since November 2016, just before OPEC instituted a production cut deal that began January 2017, according to the JODI data.

Refinery runs in November rose to 2.836 million b/d, up 21,000 b/d from October, while direct crude burn for power generation decreased to 328,000 b/d, down 5,000 b/d, the JODI data showed.

Combining the exports, refinery runs and crude burn figures indicated that Saudi Arabia supplied 11.399 million b/d to the market in November.

That was above its production of 11.093 million b/d, necessitating a 306,000 b/d draw from crude in storage.

The stock draw was the kingdom's 12th monthly drawdown in 13 months, with Saudi inventories ending November at 208.218 million barrels, down 16.6% year on year, according to the JODI data.

Saudi Arabia reported to OPEC earlier this month that its December crude production dropped to 10.643 million b/d, as the kingdom slashed output ahead of a new production cut agreement that went into force January 1.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said at the meeting his country's output would fall to about 10.2 million b/d in January, below its quota under the deal of 10.311 million b/d.

The country since June had 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 and 10 allies in December 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.

A key OPEC/non-OPEC monitoring committee chaired by Saudi Arabia and Russia will meet March 18 in Baku, Azerbaijan, while the next full OPEC meeting will be April 17 in Vienna, with Russia and the nine other non-OPEC partners joining talks a day later.

Saudi oil product exports fell to 2.059 million b/d in November from 2.069 million b/d in October, the JODI figures showed.

Refinery output rose to 2.867 million b/d from November, from 2.630 million in October.

The JODI database, maintained by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum, comprises self-reported oil figures from 114 countries.

--Herman Wang, herman.wang@spglobal.com

--Edited by Daniel Lalor, newsdesk@spglobal.com