RIYADH - Oil production in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, rose to 9.923 million barrels a day in March, from 9.853 million barrels a day in February, overtaking Russia as the world's largest producer for the first time in six years, official data showed Sunday. Russia's output in March dropped to 9.920 million barrels a day, from 9.943 million barrels a day in February, according to figures posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative, or JODI, website. JODI is supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum and shows data supplied directly by governments dating back to 2002.
Saudi Arabia burnt 377,000 barrels a day in power stations and water-desalination plants in March, up 45% from the 260,000 barrels a day used during the same period in 2011, and 24% higher than February, signaling a rise in demand for energy, which is needed to fuel electricity stations and industrial complexes in the rapidly growing economy
The Arab world's largest economy exported 7.704 million barrels a day in March, up from 7.485 million barrels in the month earlier, JODI said. No comparative figures were given on Russia's exports or domestic consumption for the same period.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose members produce one in three barrels consumed world-wide, has raised output by a combined 2.2 million barrels a day over the past six months to soothe market fears that a July 1 ban by the European Union of imports of Iranian crude could strain oil markets.
Saudi officials have previously said that the OPEC member's output is seen continuing at current high levels amid recent efforts by some countries to switch to crude from the kingdom ahead of stifling sanctions on Iran and its exports later this year.
Saudi Arabia's output rose dramatically in November to 10.047 million barrels a day--the highest level in three decades--from 9.362 million barrels a day a month earlier on higher demand from Asia. The kingdom's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said earlier this month that the Gulf state is now pumping around 10 million barrels of crude a day and has 2.5 million barrels a day of spare capacity.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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