KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s April crude exports fell by 161,000 barrels per day (bpd) as domestic refiners processed more crude, official data showed.
Exports fell to 7.737 million bpd from 7.898 million in March when they hit their highest levels in almost a decade.
Domestic refiners processed 2.224 million bpd, up 315,000 bpd from 1.909 million bpd in March, figures supplied by Riyadh to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) showed.
JODI compiles data supplied from oil-producing members of global organisations including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Saudi Arabia has traditionally been the world’s biggest exporter of crude and the kingdom’s rapid transition into one of the largest oil refiners adds an extra dimension to global oil markets.
The growth puts its national oil company Saudi Aramco’s owned or equity stakes in refining at 5.4 million bpd, at least 40 percent above a decade ago.
Aramco itself markets more than 3 million bpd of that, tying it with Shell as the world’s fourth-largest oil refiner.
In April, the kingdom’s oil output inched up to its highest rate on record at 10.308 million bpd from 10.294 million bpd in March, according to JODI.
An executive from Saudi Aramco said last week his country is ready to increase output in the coming months to a new record to meet a rise in global demand, despite increased domestic use.
The kingdom burns more crude to generate power for air-conditioning heading into summer.
It burnt 358,000 bpd in April versus 351,000 bpd in March, data from JODI showed.
Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; editing by Jason Neely