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Both Saudi Arabia and Iran hiked oil exports in January, but the former’s growing shipments to the United States hinted at price control preparations before sanctions against the latter come into play.
Saudi Arabia boosted its status as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ biggest producer by raising exports by 2 percent to 7.507 million barrels a day. Iran exported 2.265 million barrels a day in January, according to a Bloomberg.
However, exports from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. are now at their highest in almost four years, up 25 percent, according to Reuters. Speculation has it that the growth is a response to the forthcoming sanctions against Iran that will be introduced in July and are likely to send oil prices skyward.
Official January data from the Joint Organization Data Initiative also reported Algeria increasing exports by 18 percent, Ecuador hiking them by 41 percent, and Angola raising its numbers by 2.5 percent. Venezuela, Nigeria, and Qatar lowered exports, while Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Iraq didn’t submit data. OPEC produced a total of 31.42 million barrels a day in February, the most since October 2008.
Reuters reported that since the start of March, Saudi Arabia’s state oil tanker company has booked at least nine carriers capable of carrying 2 million barrels of crude each to the US Gulf.
“Saudi Arabia and the United States are trying to show the Iranians they (the Iranians) will have little flexibility, and they shouldn’t count on the world needing all the oil that Iran produces,” Amy Jaffe, an energy policy expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told Reuters. The U.S. also recently struck a deal with Britain to release strategic oil inventories.
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