By Sharif M. Taha
Saudi Arabia  exported nearly 1.27 billion barrels of oil in the first six months of the current year that yielded SR 514 billion, an economic expert told local media.
Local consumption stood at 419 million barrels, 25 percent of total production, during the same period, Fahad bin Jumaa told Al-Riyadh Arabic daily.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA)  has predicted that global demand on oil would go down by 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the current year, or 90.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) but still higher by 0.9 percent compared to the figures of 2012.
Jumaa predicted that the second half of the current year would witness oil price fluctuations for the advent of summer season, and an increase of local consumption in some of exporting or consuming countries due to political developments.
However, the commitment of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)  to its agreed production ceiling will keep prices at a range of $ 90-95 per barrel based on the West Texas price index, he said.
Referring to a recently published report by Saudi Aramco , Jumaa said the quantity of gasoline (benzene) processed in the local refineries stood at 74.29 million barrels in 2012. The domestic gasoline sales reached 175.9 million barrels in 2012 compared to 162.5 million barrels in 2011, an increase of 8.2 percent, he said.
In this context, the Kingdom is prepared to import semi-record amounts of diesel fuel this summer to meet the expected intense heat and keep up with the increased traffic during the holy month of Ramadan, he was quoted to have said by commercial sources.
The Kingdom’s imports of gasoline are predicted to hit 4.5 million barrels during this June, an increase of 45 percent compared to figures of the same period last year, the sources said.
Jumaa quoted a report aired by the Bloomberg Global Network as saying that Saudi Arabia needs to import 100,000-120,000 barrels of gasoline per day between June and August to meet the summer requirements.
The economic expert ruled out any decline in demand for gasoline as a result of fuel rationalization or vehicle efficiency because consumers never changed their consumption attitudes on the ground. Nothing changed in terms of efficiency of the imported cars nor incentives given to consumers to change their behavior, which, in addition to the absence of a public transport system, will keep demand on gasoline, he said.