Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports jumped by 534,000 bpd month on month in November to 8.24 million bpd—the highest level in years as the Kingdom moved to offset supply losses from Iran with the return of the U.S. sanctions on Tehran’s oil industry.
According to data by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) database, which collects self-reported figures from 114 countries, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports hit a 24-month high, while crude oil production surged to an all-time high of 11.09 million bpd in November.
The month before that, Saudi Arabia had increased its October crude oil exports to what was then the highest level since January 2017, when the initial OPEC/non-OPEC production cut deal began.
After the U.S. granted waivers to eight key Iranian oil customers to continue importing oil from Iran until early May this year, Saudi Arabia and its allies at OPEC and non-OPEC Russia pared back production as the market started to fear a growing oversupply amid uncertain demand growth.
As a result, OPEC and its Russia-led non-OPEC partners agreed to a new production cut deal in early December, targeting to remove 1.2 million bpd from the market between January and June this year, with Iran, Venezuela, and Libya exempted from cuts due to their ‘special circumstances.’
Saudi Arabia had already started slashing production as early as December, cutting output by 468,000 bpd from the November all-time high of 11.021 million bpd, to 10.553 million bpd, as per OPEC’s secondary sources—the ones used to calculate compliance and cuts.
Under the deal effective January 1, OPEC’s de facto leader and biggest producer Saudi Arabia is tasked with cutting 322,000 bpd from its October baseline of 10.633 million bpd and keeping output at 10.311 million bpd until June.
Just after the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna early last month, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the Kingdom would cut production to around 10.2 million bpd in January, and that Saudi crude oil exports would be cut to below 8 million bpd in December from some 8.3 million bpd in November. Saudi Arabia is reportedly targeting to further slash oil exports in January, to around 7.3 million bpd.