(Updates with Saudi oil inventories in fifth paragraph.)
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output fell in December to a 19-month low as shipments from the OPEC producer fell for a third consecutive month and local use of crude dropped, the Joint Organisations Data Initiative said.
The country exported 7.06 million barrels of crude a day in December, the lowest since September 2011, JODI reported, citing statistics the government submitted to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. December exports were 1.3 percent less than the previous month. Saudi Arabia pumped 4.8 percent less in the month to 9.03 million barrels a day.
The kingdom burned 303,000 barrels a day at power plants in December, the lowest level in 10 months, according to the data. That is 29 percent less than what it burned a year ago.
The country, which burns oil to produce electricity and desalinate water, is seeking increasingly to use natural gas as a substitute fuel. By doing do, the government plans to free up more crude for sale overseas, where the commodity can sell at higher prices than it does at home.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, stored 276.6 million barrels of crude within its borders in December compared with 278.9 million a month earlier, the data show. Refineries in the kingdom processed 1.73 million barrels a day during the month, down by 44,000 barrels a day from November.
JODI, supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum, uses statistics supplied by national governments to compile data on production, imports and exports for oil- producing and consuming nations. The data include crude oil and condensates and exclude natural gas liquids.
--Editors: Shaji Mathew, Digby Lidstone