Dubai: Production in Saudi Arabia fell in December 2015 by 50,000 barrels a day (bpd) to 10.14 million bpd due to decrease in shipments, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly report on Tuesday.
Shipments to China and India dipped in December following substantial purchases a month earlier in November, the IEA said according to preliminary tanker tracking data.
Despite the huge slump in oil prices over the past 18 months, the IEA said it is unlikely Saudi production will fall below 10 million bpd in the coming months “given its determination to defend market share and satisfy internal demand.”
Saudi Arabia has produced more than 10 million bpd for ten consecutive months, pushing its average output at the end of 2015 to a record 10.17 million bpd.
Crude oil sales are holding at around 7 million bpd, the IEA said, with Saudi Arabia shipping close to 7.4 million bpd from January to October 2015, a 300,000 growth on the same period a year earlier.
Total Saudi oil exports, excluding condensates and natural gas liquids, averaged around 8.4 million bpd over the first ten months of the year, a year on year increase of 400,000 bod.
But the IEA said Saudi Arabian domestic demand growth could more than halve in 2016 due to rising fuel costs and a deteriorating macroeconomic backdrop.
Saudi Arabia is implementing a series of reforms as the low oil price continues to place pressure on the resource-dependent economy. This month, it increased fuel prices to 0.75 riyals ($0.20) and 0.9 riyals ($0.24) for 91 octane and 95 octane, respectively.
Short-term demand across the Middle East, including in the Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, will drop in the short-term because of similar subsidy cuts by regional governments, the IEA said.
Still, production in Gulf, apart from Saudi, was steady in December. Kuwait produced 2.81 million bpd, up from 2.73 bpd in October, while UAE and Qatar were relatively unchanged at 2.89 million barrels and 680,000 barrels a day.
The IEA expects supply to exceed demand this year by 1 million bpd for the third year in row. However, warned that with the re-entry of Iran and no signs of a slowing down among Middle East producers this could stretch out to 1.5 million bpd excess.
“There will be enormous strain on the ability of the oil system to absorb it efficiently,” the IEA said.