Saudi Crude Exports in May Fell to Lowest Since 2011

Ras Tanura Sea Island Terminal saudi aramco
A supertanker berths at our Ras Tanura Sea Island Terminal, part of the Port of Ras Tanura, the world’s largest crude oil export terminal complex. Image: Saudi Aramco (click for larger)

By Wael Mahdi

July 17 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, shipped the least crude in almost three years in May as domestic refineries processed record amounts and power plants also increased consumption, official data showed.

The nation exported 6.99 million barrels a day in May, down from 7.45 million barrels a month earlier, according to data Saudi Arabia submits to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative in Riyadh. The shipments were the smallest since September 2011. Crude production rose to 9.71 million barrels a day from 9.66 million in April.

Saudi Arabian refiners processed 2.14 million barrels a day of crude in May, the highest since at least January 2002, the year when JODI started collecting data from member governments. Crude processing in May went up from 1.85 million barrels a day in April, the data showed.

“The record refining volume shows that Saudi Arabia is fulfilling its plans to become a major downstream player,” said Julian Lee, a Bloomberg oil strategist in London who writes for First Word and whose observations are his own. The nation’s 400,000 barrels a day Jubail refinery is running at about 80 percent of capacity and a new Yanbu plant of the same size should start operations before the end of the year, he said.

Saudi power plants burned 680,000 barrels a day on compared with 484,000 barrels in April, and 547,000 barrels a year ago. May crude burning was at highest level since August 2013, JODI showed.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.