The world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, raised its crude oil exports in May to the highest level in four months after OPEC+ decided in April to gradually ease its cuts and the Kingdom started unwinding its extra unilateral cut of 1 million bpd between May and July.
Saudi Arabia exported 5.649 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in May, data from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Monday. This was up from 5.408 million bpd of crude oil exports in April, according to JODI, which compiles self-reported data from the countries.
The Saudi crude exports in May were at their highest level since January this year, when the Kingdom exported 6.582 million bpd. Until January 2021, Saudi Arabia had been raising its crude oil exports every month since June last year when the Kingdom saw its crude oil exports drop to their lowest on record at just below 5 million bpd.
In January 2021, the Saudis surprised the market with the decision for a unilateral cut of 1 million bpd, while the OPEC+ group was only slightly easing the cuts due to the concessions to Russia and Kazakhstan.
At the following OPEC+ meeting in early March, Saudi Arabia surprised the market yet again, saying it would keep the extra cut into April instead of only in February and March as originally planned. OPEC+ decided not to ease the cuts in April—except for a combined 150,000 bpd increase for Russia and Kazakhstan—as the group was looking to tighten the market and keep its powder dry until it sees tangible proof of rebound in global oil demand.
After May 2021, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports are expected to continue to increase because the OPEC+ group and the Kingdom are currently easing a total of 2 million bpd of the cuts until July. As of August, OPEC+ will add 400,000 bpd of supply every month until all 5.8 million bpd remaining cuts are restored, as per Sunday’s deal, which put an end to two weeks of uncertainty about the group’s future oil supply.