VIENNA, July 13 (UPI) -- With oil demand from the Middle East expected to surge, Saudi Arabia reported to OPEC its crude oil production was at its highest levels in more than 30 years.
Saudi Arabia reported to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries it produced 10.56 million barrels of oil per day in June, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous month.
Saudi Arabia has maintained a high level of oil production despite the slump in crude oil prices, arguing it needs to protect its market share in an economy in flux because of the glut of U.S. oil.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said during an April meeting in Beijing his country was a reliable partner to China, which at the time was expecting to take on more crude oil to feed steady economic expansion.
OPEC in its latest monthly market report said Chinese oil demand for 2016 is expected to be about 20,000 bpd less than 2015. China's stock market last week was in a free fall before the government intervened.
The 12-member group said economic recovery in the Middle East, meanwhile, was expected to gain momentum in 2016. Oil demand growth is expected to grow, with Saudi Arabia's appetite forecast to drive the increase.
"In Saudi Arabia, oil demand figures were very robust during the month of May 2015, rising by around 30,000 bpd, or more than 12 percent, as compared with the same month in 2014," the latest market report read.
Overall demand for crude oil produced by OPEC members, however, is expected to decline by 100,00 bpd this year, but recover by 2016.