Saudi oil exports rise in June to highest level since 2008

Saudi Arabia produced 9.813 million barrels a day (bpd) of crude in June, up about 918,000 bpd from May, while exports rose to their highest level since the financial crisis hit demand in 2008, official Joint Data Initiative (JODI) figures show.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said the kingdom would unilaterally produce all the oil needed after OPEC talks over a coordinated increase in production collapsed on June 8.

Saudi crude production did surge in June to its highest level since JODI records began in 2002, while exports of 7.378 million bpd are the highest since October 2008.

But despite June production levels being higher than any month since the start of 2002, Saudi crude sales fell short of exports often seen until mid-2005, according to official Saudi government data made available through JODI.

A more modest 539,000 bpd increase in Saudi exports from May to June 2011 probably reflects increased internal demand for crude for power generation and feedstock demand after the restart of the Rabigh refinery. Rabigh, which can consume up to 400,000 bpd of oil, was shut for maintenance in May.

Analysts say Saudi's increasing reliance on burning its own crude in power stations to keep a booming population cool has limited its summer exports and squeezed spare capacity.

A senior OPEC Gulf delegate told Reuters in early July the kingdom pumped more than 9.8 million bpd in June, but he did not give an export figure.

Increasing fears that another global economic slowdown could reduce demand for oil have weighed on prices since late July.

The United Arab Emirates produced 2.611 million bpd in June, down from 2.646 million bpd in May, while Kuwaiti crude output rose from 2.55 to 2.60 million bpd in June, according to JODI data.

Saudi Arabia's Naimi refers reporters to JODI, set up to promote transparency in oil markets, when asked how much the kingdom is pumping.

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