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Saudi Arabia to keep Q1 crude exports at around 7m bpd

The world’s top oil exporter aims to hold its production at around 9.8 million bpd level from January until March

Gulf News

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia plans to keep its crude oil exports at around seven million barrels per day for the first quarter despite planned refinery shutdowns, industry sources said, as the Opec producer is determined to end a global supply glut and boost prices.

The world’s top oil exporter aims to hold its production at around 9.8 million bpd level from January until March, the sources said.

Despite scheduled domestic refinery maintenance in the first quarter, Saudi Arabia has no plans to boost crude exports by much above seven million bpd for those months, the sources added.

Saudi Arabia’s 400,000 bpd SATORP refinery in Jubail will be undergoing planned maintenance from mid-January to mid-February, while its Samref 400,000 bpd plant in Yanbu plans a total shutdown for scheduled maintenance from March 10 until April 30.

In January, Saudi Aramco plans to maintain its crude shipments at 6.9 million bpd, an industry source familiar with the kingdom’s exports plans told Reuters in December.

In February, oil exports are expected to remain below seven million bpd despite planned refinery maintenance, one industry source said.

Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports rose to 7.016 million bpd in November from 6.874 million bpd the month before, the latest official JODI data showed. It pumped 9.98 million bpd in December, below its Opec output target.

Gulf Opec producers plan to keep their output in the first quarter below year-earlier levels despite strong demand growth and a decline in global inventories, a senior Opec source familiar with Gulf plans told Reuters this month.

Saudi Arabia has been reducing shipments in recent months, particularly to the United States, as it turns its focus on cutting exports in an attempt to drain global oil stocks.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-Opec producers led by Russia have agreed to maintain oil output cuts until the end of 2018 aiming to reduce global inventories and support prices.