Output or exports? OPEC members have argued for decades over which of the two they should monitor to gauge compliance with oil-output cuts.
This month, Saudi Arabia has thrown a third metric – supply – into the debate.
The move saw oil prices declining, with confused traders fearing Riyadh would pump more crude, thus complicating OPEC’s efforts to reduce a global glut and prop up the market.
But sources in Riyadh argue that those worries are overblown.
They say that while Saudi production could fluctuate slightly from month to month, supply will remain stable at around 10 million barrels per day (bpd), fully in line with the Saudi OPEC quota.
“What we are watching closely is the supply. Saudi Arabia will not supply the market more than 10 million bpd,” a Saudi-based industry source said.
On Jan. 1, a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and some non-OPEC states to curb production by 1.8 million bpd came into effect.
Production is the volume of crude pumped from the wellhead, while supply is the amount of crude sent to the market, domestically and for export. This may vary from production on a monthly basis based on movement of barrels in or out of storage.