China's Oil Imports From Russia Surpass Top Supplier Saudi Arabia
China's crude oil imports from Russia increased by 55 percent year on year in May, surpassing Saudi Arabia as the nation's leading supplier, as refiners took advantage of inexpensive supplies amid sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Chen Aizhu reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: Leading importers such as Sinopec and trader Zhenhua Oil have increased purchases of cheaper Russian oil.
According to figures from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, Russian oil imports reached roughly 8.42 million tons, including supplies pushed through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne exports from Russia's European and Far Eastern ports.
This translates to around 1.98 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 1.59 million bpd in April.
The numbers, which show that Russia has reclaimed the top spot among exporters to the world's largest crude oil importer after a 19-month hiatus, suggest that despite Western sanctions, Moscow is able to find consumers for its oil, although at a lower price.
While COVID-19 restrictions and a slowing economy have dampened China's overall crude oil demand, leading importers such as Sinopec and trader Zhenhua Oil have increased purchases of cheaper Russian oil on top of sanctioned supplies from Iran and Venezuela, allowing them to reduce competing supplies from West Africa and Brazil.
Saudi Arabia was the second-largest supplier, with May volumes increasing by 9% year on year to 7.82 million tons, or 1.84 million bpd. This was down from 2.17 million bpd in April.
China purchased 260,000 tons of Iranian crude oil last month, the third cargo since December, according to customs data released on Monday, confirming an earlier Reuters story.
Despite US sanctions, China has continued to import Iranian oil, which is frequently disguised as shipments from other nations. The import amounts are about similar to 7% of total Chinese crude oil imports.
Overall crude oil imports in China increased over 12% in May from a low base a year earlier to 10.8 million bpd, compared to the 2021 average of 10.3 million bpd.