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Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports rose by 221,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a three-month high of 7.66 million bpd in January, data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Thursday.
At the same time, crude oil inventories in the world’s largest crude exporter fell to 145.6 million barrels in January, down from 148.6 million barrels in December, according to JODI, which compiles self-reported data from many countries.
Part of the inventories could have gone for exports, considering that OPEC’s secondary sources estimated in the monthly report for February that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production in January fell by 156,000 bpd compared to December.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer and de facto leader of the cartel, pumped 10.319 million bpd in January, down by 156,000 bpd month on month, and more than 100,000 bpd below its quota of 10.478 million bpd as part of the OPEC+ agreement, set out at the October meeting and valid from November 2022 through December 2023, or until OPEC+ decides otherwise.
Saudi Arabia, however, self-reported to OPEC that its crude oil production averaged 10.453 million bpd in January, up by 17,000 bpd from December.
In February and March, Saudi Arabia raised its official selling prices (OSPs) for most of its crude going to Asia this month and next, in two consecutive price hikes suggesting the Kingdom is optimistic about Asian demand. Last month’s hike for the March prices came as a surprise as it was the first time in six months that Saudi oil giant Aramco had hiked prices for its crude.
More recently, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told Energy Intelligence in an interview this week that the OPEC+ group would keep its oil production targets unchanged until the end of the year, considering the high level of uncertainty on the global markets and with global economic growth.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com