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IEA sees decline in Saudi oil output

Feb. 15, 2012 at 8:54 AM

PARIS, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Though expectations are dampened, oil production from Saudi Arabia could hold steady as the government pumps more money into the oil sector, the IEA said.

The International Energy Agency lowered its estimate of Saudi Arabia's oil output from 12 million barrels per day from January to 11.88 million bpd in its latest February report.

State-owned Saudi Aramco estimates it could produce as much as 12.5 million bpd and the IEA had raised its estimates for Saudi Arabia steadily in the past 10 years, the Financial Times reports.

Riyadh has said it would need at least 90 days to reach the 12.5 million bpd threshold. The IEA, however, bases its estimates on a "capacity level that can be reached within 30 days and sustained for 90 days," the newspaper adds.

IEA Senior Analyst Diane Munro told the Financial Times that the February assessment reflects a natural decline in Saudi Arabian oil fields. That rate is estimated at around 3.5 percent per year.

As the kingdom pumps more money into production, however, natural declines should slow, she said.

"We are reviewing our estimate of Saudi's natural depletion as Saudi Aramco appears to be bringing in more rigs and that should help to stem the natural decline," Munro was quoted as saying.

Riyadh had said it could make up for the loss of any Iranian crude on the international market. Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV reported Wednesday that exports to six unnamed European countries were cut.

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