DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fell by 278,000 barrels per day in August, despite historically high wellhead production, while volumes of shipped refined oil products rose to a record high, official data showed on Sunday.
The OPEC heavyweight shipped 6.998 million bpd in August, down from 7.276 million bpd in July, figures published by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) showed.
The world’s biggest crude exporter trimmed its production by around 100,000 bpd in August pumping 10.265 million bpd, but still maintained high output levels in line with a strategy of defending market share.
Monthly export figures are provided by Riyadh and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to JODI, which published them on its website.
Saudi Arabia burns higher crude volumes to generate power for air conditioning during the hot summer months. It has also been feeding more crude to domestic refineries as it expands oil product exports.
Domestic refineries processed the same volumes in August at 2.214 million, while crude oil directly burnt to generate power was also unchanged in August from the month before at 848,000 bpd, the JODI data showed.
Exports of refined oil products in August rose to 1.347 million bpd from 1.075 million bpd a month earlier, a record high since at least 2002 when the JODI data started.
The kingdom’s rapid transition into one of the largest oil refiners adds an extra dimension to global oil markets.
State oil giant Saudi Aramco has stakes in more than 5 million bpd of refining capacity, at home and abroad, landing it a place among the global leaders in making oil products.
Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Michael Perry and Adrian Croft