Saudi Oil Exports Down in 2014

Saudi Oil Exports Down in 2014Saudi Oil Exports Down in 2014

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, shipped 5.7 percent less oil overseas last year in a sign the price rout did little to revive demand.

Shipments averaged 7.11 million barrels a day, down from an 11-year high of 7.54 million barrels a day in 2013 and the lowest in three years, according to data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, citedby Bloomberg.

December exports were below 7 million barrels, the level needed to balance the Saudi budget. Shipments were below 7 million for most of 2014, the data show.

Crude prices fell almost 50 percent last year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries sought to defend market share amid a US shale boom and a global glut estimated by Qatar and United Arab Emirates at 2 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia will maintain output, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in December.

Saudi Arabia increased production last year to an average 9.71 million barrels a day from 9.63 million barrels a day in 2013, according to the JODI data.

China, Saudi Arabia largest customer in Asia, cut imports of Saudi crude by 7.9 percent in 2014, while it increased imports from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Angola, and UAE, according to official Chinese data.

Saudi Arabia needs to keep exports at a minimum of 7 million barrels a day for the budget’s base-case scenario, said John Sfakianakis, head of Middle East at Ashmore Group Plc, the London-based money manager specializing in emerging markets..

The drop in crude exports explains to some extent why Saudi Arabia is offering discounts on crude, according to Sfakianakis, a former adviser to the Saudi government. Saudi Aramco, the state-run oil company, offered Asian customers the biggest discount on its benchmark crude in at least 14 years for January sales. It also cut prices for all grades it sells to US refineries.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest oil exporter, is in talks with banks to raise a $10 billion loan that could be used to fund acquisitions and other investments, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

Saudi Aramco is negotiating with international and local banks to replace an undrawn $4 billion loan, the people said, asking not to be identified as the plans are private. Saudi Aramco told banks that it expects to make withdrawals under the new facility, two of the people said.