Saudi Arabia produced 9.819 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in December, up from 9.745 million bpd in November, an industry source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The world’s largest oil exporter also raised supply to the market to 9.897 million bpd in December from 9.448 million bpd in November. Supply to market may differ from production depending on movement in or out of storage.
“Production was up and supply was up. This is a sign it’s a strong market, stronger than many people anticipated,” the source said.
The rise in production comes at a time when Saudi burns less crude oil during winter, which allows it to export more.
The Saudi Kingdom kept production in November at steady levels from October when it cut output after pumping at record rates of around 10 million bpd for three months running to help offset a plunge in output from fellow OPEC member Libya.
Libya is now producing around 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, of which 510,000 bpd is being exported, Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi said on Wednesday.
As for Iraq, OPEC’s second largest producer, its oil industry and foreign investors see no cause to panic after al Qaeda militants seized major towns last week – troubled Anbar province.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed early December to renew for six months its 30 million barrel-a-day output cap for the first half of 2014.
Both Iraq and Iran, second and third in the OPEC producers’ league table after Saudi Arabia, wasted no time in making clear they have no interest in contributing to a collective cut should one be required next year.
Some speculated Saudi Arabia would need to cut output further towards nine million bpd by the middle of next year, however for now the Kingdom shows no signs of curtailing production.