Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, further dipped into crude stockpiles in January as exports declined for the first time in four months, data released Wednesday by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative showed.
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Exports dropped to 7.29 million b/d from 7.37 million b/d in December as it led OPEC+ in cutting supplies to the global market because of a surplus. Production rose to 9.75 million b/d from a three-month low of 9.59 million b/d in December, well below the kingdom's capacity.
Saudi Arabia is now set to embark on increasing supplies after OPEC+ talks to extend production cuts past March broke down last month. Saudi Aramco said earlier this month that it plans to supply 12.3 million b/d of crude to the market in April once its OPEC production quota expires and maintain a level of at least 12 million b/d production for the rest of 2020.
Saudi Arabia's energy minister instructed Saudi Aramco to continue to supply 12.3 million b/d of crude to the market "during the coming months," official news agency SPA reported Wednesday. The order came one day after the energy ministry said the kingdom would increase its crude exports to more than 10 million b/d over the next few months.
The kingdom has had to bolster its production to replace inventories drawn in the wake of the Abqaiq attacks in September. Stockpiles hit a 15-year low of 152.5 million barrels that month. They slipped at the end of January to 153.968 million barrels, the lowest since September, from 155.2 million barrels in December.
Domestic refinery runs dropped marginally to 2.2 million b/d in January from 2.23 million b/d in December.
Total Saudi oil product exports in January slumped to 748,000 b/d, the lowest since July 2014, from 1.05 million b/d the previous month.
The kingdom's direct use of crude burned for power generation slumped to 292,000 b/d from 374,000 b/d in December.
Combining the exports, refinery runs and direct-use figures indicates Saudi Arabia supplied 9.788 million b/d to the market, from 9.975 million barrels in December.
The JODI database is maintained by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum.