Saudi Arabia's crude oil production fell slightly by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August, an industry source told Reuters on Wednesday, but still maintained historically high output levels in line with a strategy of defending market share.
The world's top oil exporter pumped 10.26 million bpd in August, while crude supplied to the market was at 10.18 million bpd, down by about 78,000 bpd from July, the industry source said.
Supply to the market, both domestically and for export, may differ from production depending on the movement of oil in and out of storage.
"Production is based on customers' needs. It is an indication that Saudi is trying to match the customers' needs," the source said.
This week Saudi-based industry sources said the kingdom's level of crude production was likely to stay around current levels in the fourth quarter as a decline in domestic crude burning for electricity would be offset by rising global demand.
Saudi Arabia's crude production for July stood at 10.36 million bpd, according to OPEC.
The United Arab Emirates' crude production in August was 3.026 million bpd, and Kuwait's output was 2.890 million bpd, separate industry sources told Reuters.
That is compared with July's production of 3.061 from the UAE and 2.820 from Kuwait, according to official figures released by OPEC.
The latest slide in oil prices, which fell to a more than six-year low near $42 a barrel last month, has raised speculation about whether Saudi Arabia will cut its crude output in order to support prices.
But Gulf oil insiders see no sign of Saudi Arabia wavering on its market strategy. They say OPEC's strategy championed by Saudi Arabia is not a short-term one, but rather a plan that needs time to work and they are willing to wait.
Saudi officials have often stressed it adjusts its oil supply to accommodate its customers and not to drive the price.