Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports in September hit a six-year low at 6.55 million barrels daily, according to data from JODI, cited by senior Platts oil analyst Sammy Six. At the same time, however, Six says, exports of refined oil products surged to 1.55 million bpd in the same month – an all-time high as the Kingdom seeks to shift its focus away from crude and towards oil products.
According to TankerTrackers data, Saudi crude exports continued to fall in the next two months as well. The cargo-tracking website has calculated that Saudi exports in October averaged 6.68 million bpd—down from a calculated 6.7 million bpd for September. This month, Saudi Arabia has been shipping abroad an average 5.7 million bpd.
The discrepancy between data supplied by the Kingdom to JODI and the figures calculated by TankerTrackers are another indication that nobody can be certain about even so-called official data anymore. Earlier this month, data analytics company Orbital Insight, for example, said its satellite images suggest Saudi Arabia may have misled JODI about the size of its crude oil inventories.
The downward export trend, however, seems to be a fact even if there are differences in the data for any given month. The Kingdom has repeatedly made it clear that it is ready to go to great lengths to ensure the success of the OPEC production cut deal it agreed to last year, especially now, with the next Vienna Club meeting round the corner.
This meeting should produce an extension of the deal, despite recent uncertainty about Russia’s willingness to go along with another extension. Opinions differ, with some observers arguing the world’s largest producer would be better off without the cut and others countering with the fact that Russia and Saudi Arabia’s rather new and fragile alliance may not be able to withstand Moscow bowing out of the pact.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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