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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Saudi Arabia's Oil Exports Plunge To March 2021 Lows

  • Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fell in August to the lowest level since March 2021, dropping to around 5.6 million barrels per day.
  • In July, before Saudi Arabia implemented its unilateral production cut, the Kingdom exported some 6.3 million barrels per day.
  • Saudi Arabia is currently pumping around 9 million bpd and will continue to do so until at least the end of September.

Saudi crude oil exports plummeted in August to the lowest in two and a half years as the Kingdom continued to slash production by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) to keep markets tight and push oil prices higher.

Shipments out of the world’s top crude exporter fell in August to the lowest levels since March 2021—to around 5.6 million bpd, with exports to China and the U.S. slumping to multiyear lows, preliminary data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Friday.     

The export volume estimated in August compares with crude oil exports of some 6.3 million bpd in July.

According to the shipments observed by Bloomberg, Saudi crude oil exports to China fell to the lowest since June 2020, those to Japan and South Korea fell to the lowest level since Bloomberg began monitoring them in 2017, and Saudi exports to the United States were the lowest in at least six years at just 81,000 bpd.

Since July, Saudi Arabia has been cutting an additional 1 million bpd off its oil production, on top of its share in the cuts by several major OPEC+ members including top Middle Eastern exporters.

The Saudi cut means that the Kingdom is now pumping around 9 million bpd and will continue to do so until at least the end of September.

The Saudi cuts have tightened the market and started to draw down inventories, analysts say, with many expecting the Saudis to announce next week another extension of the cuts into October.

“OPEC+ cuts, and in particular additional voluntary cuts from Saudi Arabia, mean that the market is drawing down inventories,” Warren Patterson, Head of Commodities Strategy at ING, said on Thursday.  

“We expect this trend will continue until the end of the year, which suggests that oil prices still have room to move higher from current levels.”

As of Friday morning ET, Brent prices were up at $87.70 and WTI Crude had risen to $84.50 as oil prices were on track for a weekly gain.

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 01 2023 said:
    When Saudi Arabia announced in June a voluntary cut of 1.0 million barrels a day (mbd) for July (later extended to August and could also be extended to September), the global oil market was balanced. So what was behind the Saudi cut?

    I am convinced that the Saudi cut has nothing to do with the market and everything to do with production difficulties, Saudi production is falling because of depletion and aging giant oilfields.

    90% of Saudi crude production has for the last seven decades been coming from five giant but aging and fast depleting oilfields (Ghawar, Safaniya, Hanifa, Khurais and Zuluf ) all of which are more than 74 years old and which are being kept producing by a huge injection of water.

    Saudi real production is 6.0-6.5 million barrels a day (mbd) with 3.5-4.0 mbd coming from stored oil to raise the level of supply to 10.0 mbd. Saudi exports were estimated in August at 5.6 mbd, down from 6.3 mbd in July. By cutting production by 1.0 mbd, Saudi Arabia gives itself time to replenish its stored oil without which it could neither perform any major maintenance work nor would it be able to have any influence on the market and prices.

    Saudi oil production is declining by an estimated 5% annually. By 2026 Saudi production is projected to fall to 5.1-5.5 mbd with consumption rising to 3.6 mbd leaving only 1.5-1.9 mbd for exports.

    It is possible that by 2030 Saudi production would have fallen to 4.12-4.4 mbd with consumption rising to 4.0 mbd leaving only 120,000-400,000 barrels a day (b/d) for export by which time Saudi Arabia would have virtually ceased to remain a crude exporter.
    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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