Saudi crude exports in January reached highest in 11 months



RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports rose 7.8% in January to the highest level in 11 months, according to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative.

The world’s biggest oil exporter shipped 7.47 MMbpd in the month compared with 6.93 MMbpd in December, data posted Wednesday on the initiative’s website showed. Shipments increased to the highest since February 2014, the data showed.

The kingdom produced 9.68 MMbopd in January, up 0.5% or 50,000 bopd, from the previous month, according to JODI. Saudi Arabia is the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The growth in January exports coincided with a 7.6% slide in the Brent crude price that month, signaling that cheaper oil may be stimulating demand amid a global surplus. Consumption is rising gradually, and economic growth is more robust, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said March 4 in Berlin. The International Energy Agency, an adviser to industrialized nations, increased its forecasts for global oil consumption in 2015 by 130,000 bpd because of “modestly escalating global economic growth,” it said in a March 13 report.

U.S. production and stockpiles continue to rise from the highest level in three decades, even after last year’s price decline of almost 50%. OPEC, which decided in November to keep output unchanged, has pumped more than its production target of 30 MMbopd for nine months.

Burning Crude

Brent, a benchmark for more than half of the world’s oil, slid as much as 70 cents, or 1.3%, on Wednesday to $52.81/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Saudi Arabia reduced the amount of crude it burned as fuel in power plants in January to 276,000 bpd from 386,000 in December, according to JODI data. The country burned less crude in January than in any month since March 2011.

OPEC’s second-biggest producer, Iraq, exported 14% less oil in January at 2.54 MMbpd, while Iran’s shipments were little changed from December at 1.33 million, the data showed. Kuwait, the third-largest producer in OPEC, exported 2.03 MMbopd, some 20,000 more than in December, according to JODI.

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