Amadeusz Juskowiak

Saudi february crude output put at 35 mln bpd

Saudi crude oil output last month fell to an average of 35 mln barrels per day bpd from 38 mln bpd in January Gulf oil sources said

They said exports from the Ras Tanurah and Juaymah terminals in the Gulf fell to an average 19 mln bpd last month from 22 mln in January because of lower liftings by some customers

But the drop was much smaller than expected after Gulf exports rallied in the fourth week of February to 25 mln bpd from 12 mln in the third week the sources said

The production figures include neutral zone output but not sales from floating storage which are generally considered part of a countrys output for Opec purposes

Saudi Arabia has an Opec quota of 4133 mln bpd under a production restraint scheme approved by the 13nation group last December to back new official oil prices averaging 18 dlrs a barrel

The sources said the twofold jump in exports last week appeared to be the result of buyers rushing to lift February entitlements before the monthend

Last weeks high export levels appeared to show continued support for official Opec prices from Saudi Arabias main crude customers the four expartners of Aramco the sources said

The four Exxon Corp XON Mobil Corp MOB Texaco Inc TX and Chevron Corp CHV signed a longterm agreement last month to buy Saudi crude for 1752 dlrs a barrel

However the sources said the real test of Saudi Arabias ability to sell crude at official prices in a weak market will come this month when demand for petroleum products traditionally tapers off Spot prices have fallen in recent weeks to more than one dlr below Opec levels

Saudi Arabian oil minister Hisham Nazer yesterday reiterated the kingdoms commitment to the December OPEC accord and said it would never sell below official prices

The sources said total Saudi refinery throughput fell slightly in February to an average 11 mln bpd from 12 mln in January because of cuts at the Yanbu and Jubail export refineries

They put crude oil exports through Yanbu at 100000 bpd last month compared to zero in January while throughput at Bahrains refinery and neutral zone production remained steady at around 200000 bpd each