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Saudi Arabia July crude oil stock draw surges to 5.51 million barrels as output slides

London — Saudi Arabia drew 5.51 million barrels of crude oil from storage in July -- its most in eight months -- supporting robust exports as production slumped, the latest figures from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative show.

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The stock draw averaged 178,000 b/d in July, a significant rise from the 15,000 b/d draw in June and the 30,000 b/d build in May, according to JODI data released Tuesday.

Crude exports from Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest producer, were 7.12 million b/d in July, down from 7.24 million b/d in June.

The country's refinery runs averaged 2.77 million b/d in July, down slightly from 2.79 million b/d in June.

Direct burn of crude for power generation rose to 580,000 b/d in July, from 468,000 b/d in June.

Combining the exports, refinery runs and direct burn figures results in a supplied to market figure of 10.47 million b/d for July, compared to the kingdom's reported production of 10.29 million b/d, thus necessitating the stock draw.

Saudi production has since risen to 10.42 million b/d in August, the country reported to OPEC in the organization's most recent monthly oil market report.

A source familiar with the kingdom's operations told S&P Global Platts earlier this month that July production had been lower partly because of an attack on state oil company Saudi Aramco's oil vessels in the Red Sea by Yemeni Houthi rebels that cause some shipments to be halted.

Saudi Arabia's crude oil stocks, which have been declining steadily over the last three years, fell to 229.41 million barrels in July, down 11.4% since May 2017, the JODI data showed.

OPEC on June 23 agreed with 10 non-OPEC partners to end overcompliance with production cuts in force since January 2017 and boost output by a collective 1 million b/d to replace barrels expected to be shut in by US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela's economic freefall.

Saudi Arabia, under pressure from key ally the US to loosen the taps to moderate prices, has said it intends to use its spare capacity as needed to keep the market balanced. It has increased production by almost 400,000 b/d since May.

A six-country monitoring committee overseeing the deal, including Saudi Arabia, is set to meet Sunday in Algiers to assess market conditions and discuss how to implement the output increase.

Saudi oil product demand contracted to 2.42 million b/d in July, down 175,000 b/d from June and down 380,000 b/d from the year-ago level, according to JODI.

Product exports, meanwhile, rose to 2.08 million b/d in July, up 90,000 b/d from June and up 640,000 b/d from the year-ago level, the JODI figured showed,

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

--Herman Wang,

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles,