The world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, appears to have cut both its oil production and export in December, according to the latest update by the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), an official source of oil production, consumption and export data.
The OPEC heavyweight saw production decline by 237,000 barrels per day (bpd) from three-decade highs of 10.047 million bpd in November, the JODI data showed on Sunday.
The draw-down was sharper for the actual amount exported, declining by 440,000 bpd, or 5.6 percent, to come in at 7.364 million bpd, the data also showed. The level would still be similar to exports after a steep ramp-up last June.
In its monthly report on February 10, the IEA put Saudi Arabia’s production number for December slightly lower at 9.55 million bpd, a disparity of 260,000 bpd versus the JODI data.
Iran appeared not to have filed data in time for the latest release, providing no additional clues about how many export barrels were already lost in December, as some reports have suggested.
JODI, an initiative coordinated by the International Energy Forum (IEF), depends on participating member states for data collection. The IEA estimated Iran’s oil supply in December to have been 3.45 million bpd, marking a drop of 100,000 bpd.
For the third month in a row, no details were available for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Libya, the immediate reasons for which are unclear.
Together with other Gulf oil exporters, the UAE has been in focus as a possible source of alternative supply for at least some of Iran’s crude. Widening sanctions have seen several Asian clients of Iran’s oil, including top importer China, send high-level delegations to the region in the last few weeks.
Iraq, another frequently-cited supplier to make up for part of the Iranian oil shortfall following European Union sanctions, reported no major changes to its supply and export regime. Authorities there are pursuing an ambitious production expansion plan with the aim of reaching 12 million bpd by 2016.