Why Saudi Oil Production Suddenly Dropped

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,

As if oil market participants haven’t had enough conflicting market forces to digest over the past week, reports that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production surprisingly dropped in July by around 200,000 bpd from June further confounded the market and sent oil prices rising on Monday.

Last week, several surveys of OPEC’s crude oil production in July showed that the cartel is pumping at high rates, and Saudi Arabia is nearing its production record. But on Friday, Saudi sources and OPEC sources told news agencies that the Saudi oil production was not even close to record figures—and it actually dropped last month compared to June.

The Saudis pumped 10.29 million bpd in July, Saudi sources told S&P Global Platts on Friday. On the same day, two OPEC sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production in July was 10.29 million bpd.

According to OPEC’s secondary sources, the ones the cartel uses to calculate quotas and compliance, Saudi Arabia’s oil production had jumped in June by 405,400 bpd compared to May, to reach 10.420 million bpd.

According to a Reuters survey from last week, Saudi Arabia’s production in July was 10.65 million bpd, but exports were close to June’s levels because the Saudis increased domestic use at power plants and refineries. OPEC’s crude oil production jumped by 340,000 bpd in July from June, as Saudi Arabia pumped near-record volumes, the S&P Global Platts survey showed on Friday.

The numbers leaked by Saudi and OPEC sources on Friday are in stark contrast with many of the surveys.

Some of the Platts survey participants think that Saudi Arabia may have trouble placing its barrels on the market, and demand for Saudi crude may not have been as robust as the Kingdom had expected.

“I think what they’re trying to do is, there’s a story in the market that the Saudis and the UAE and Kuwaitis and Russians were all vastly increasing production well ahead of any cutbacks from Iran, and I think they are trying to change the narrative,” a Platts survey participant said.