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Saudi Oil Stockpiles Hit 18-Month Low in March as Output Flows - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Khobar-Saudi Arabia’s crude oil stockpiles fell in March reaching the lowest level in 18 months as the kingdom kept shipping crude to meet customer demand while keeping a lid on production at about 10.2 million barrels a day.

Official statistics that were issued on Wednesday showed that Saudi Arabia’s stockpiles dropped to 296.7 million barrels in March from 305.6 million barrels in February. Stockpiles peaked at 329.4 million barrels in October and have been in decline since then, the data showed.

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and Qatar had an initial agreement in February to freeze production at January levels to curb a global glut and shore up prices.

Mohamed al-Ramadi, an independent analyst and former economics professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “The Saudis were pushing for a freeze deal since February so they needed to rely on stocks to meet any rise in customers’ demands at home and abroad while keeping their output flat.”

He added by saying withdrawing oil from the stockpiles was positive, for it gave Saudi Arabia a chance to rest after 12 months of production above 10 million barrels a day.

Negotiations between OPEC members and other producers on April 17 in Doha ended without a deal to limit output after Saudi Arabia and allies in the Gulf Arab region wouldn’t agree to any accord unless all members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries joined, including Iran.

This was announced earlier by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in statements to “Bloomberg News Agency” in April.

The world’s biggest crude exporter kept its oil production almost flat since January at about 10.2 million barrels a day. It exported more in the first quarter this year compared to the same quarter last year, the data showed. Daily exports in March were at 7.54 million barrels, little changed from February. They reached 7.84 million barrels a day in January, the highest since March 2015 when it shipped 7.89 million barrels a day.

Notably, OPEC members are keen to continue their talks regarding freezing the oil output; thus, they will meet in Vienna next month, according to Algerian Energy Minister Salah Khebri.