Saudi Arabia overtook Russia as the world’s largest oil producer as it boosted its crude oil production to record levels in March.
According to the Joint Organization Data Initiative (JODI), Saudi crude exports rose 3% in March, reaching the highest level in five years. The Gulf kingdom has been ramping up its oil production to make up for the Iran crude supplies due to US-led sanctions.
Saudi’s daily crude oil output reached 9.923 million barrels a day in March, up 0.7% while Russia produced 9.920 million barrels a day.
JODI is supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum (IEF) and compiles data provided by member governments. The IEF, a group of nations accounting for more than 90% of global oil and natural-gas supply and demand, was established as a forum for producing and consuming countries to discuss energy security.
Saudi Arabia’s oil shipment rose to 7.704 million barrels a day in March, up from 7.485 million barrels a day in February, while Iran’s shipments fell by 4% to 2.242 million barrels a day, down from 2.338 million barrels a day in February, JODI data showed.
Saudi is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil and the biggest OPEC oil producer. Iran is the second largest producer of the cartel.
Iran, hit by US-led sanctions, have been at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia on account of its increasing oil output which Tehran says is bowing to demands from the US and its Western allies.
Although the difference in oil production between Saudi and Russia is only by a few thousands barrel for the massive volumes these two nations produce, oil experts like Mark Adomanis is surprised at the sudden drop in Russia’s output.
JODI data shows that Russian oil production between December 2011 and January 2012 declined by roughly 5%. Although the percentage looks small, put in perspective to show the magnitude, it will be like missing the total production of a country like Argentina.
Adomanis, who closely follows the Russian energy sector, opined that either Russia experienced a significant production loss that nobody noticed or reported or there is something dramatically wrong with the data supplied by JODI.