Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude oil exporter, saw its crude exports drop to a five-month low in April, a month before the first of the voluntary Saudi cuts began in May, data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Monday.
In April, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports slumped by 207,000 barrels per day (bpd) from March, to 7.32 million bpd, according to JODI, which compiles self-reported data from many countries.
In early April, Saudi Arabia and several large OPEC+ producers, mostly from the Middle East, shocked the market by announcing additional voluntary cuts between May and December this year to “stabilize the oil market.” In those cuts, Saudi Arabia pledged to reduce output by 500,000 bpd. Additionally, OPEC’s top producer and de facto leader announced a unilateral cut of 1 million bpd for July, which could be extended beyond next month.
In April, per JODI’s latest data, Saudi Arabia pumped 10.46 million bpd of crude oil, marginally down by 3,000 bpd compared to March.
Saudi crude oil and oil products closing stocks built by 372,000 barrels to 235.5 million barrels in April. Product inventories declined by 1.6 million barrels while crude inventories built by 1.98 million barrels, according to the JODI data. Direct burn of crude in Saudi Arabia increased by 35,000 bpd to 389,000 bpd in April.
In another interesting data point, Saudi diesel imports rose by 71,000 bpd month-on-month in April, to the highest level since November 2018.
Saudi Arabia has started importing cheap diesel from fellow OPEC+ producer Russia, purchasing Russian fuels which are now banned to enter the EU by sea.
According to trading and ship-tracking sources who spoke to Reuters last month, Saudi Arabia is making money from diesel trading after the EU embargo on Russian fuels, as the world’s top crude exporter is now importing record volumes of cheap diesel from Russia and exporting record levels of its own diesel to the higher-priced Asian market in the Singapore hub.