Saudi crude exports fell in June to their lowest levels in almost three years as oil use in the country's power sector rose and local refineries processed high volumes, official data showed.
The top oil exporter and OPEC heavyweight exported 6.946 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, slightly down from the 6.987 million bpd in May, according to data published by the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI). The figure was the lowest since October 2011, the data showed.
The kingdom's production inched up to 9.780 million bpd in June, from 9.705 million bpd in May, JODI figures showed.
Refiners processed 2.055 million bpd of crude in June, slightly down from the 2.136 million bpd in May, which was the highest since JODI records began in 2002.
Saudi oil use for power generation surged to 827,000 bpd in June from 680,000 bpd in May and 484,000 bpd in April. June crude burning for power was the highest since March 2013, the data showed.
Oil markets closely monitor changes in Saudi production because it is the only country with spare capacity to significantly alter output according to demand, although surges in Saudi demand over the last few summers have eaten into exports.
Saudi oil use for power surges from February to June as rising temperatures drive up demand for air-conditioning in a country which relies entirely on fossil fuels for power generation and does not have enough gas to satisfy peak power demand.
Saudi Arabia produced 10 million bpd of oil in July, an industry source told Reuters last week.