China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 28% in August from a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday, but it handed back its top supplier ranking to Saudi Arabia for the first time in four months.
Russia’s oil imports totaled 8.342 million tonnes, including supplies via the East Siberian Pacific pipeline and seaborne cargo from Russian ports in Europe and the Far East, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.
Production in August was equivalent to 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd), down slightly from the May record of nearly 2 million bpd. China is Russia’s largest oil buyer.
Russian imports have risen as independent Chinese refiners expand to buy discounted Russian supplies, crowding out rival cargoes from West Africa and Brazil.
Chinese purchases climbed to benefit from a slump in European purchases when Beijing needed it most, as the Ukraine crisis forced Moscow to find alternative markets.
Nonetheless, imports from Saudi Arabia rebounded last month to 8.475 million tonnes, or 1.99 million bpd, 5% higher than a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia remains the largest supplier year-to-date, exporting 58.31 million tons of oil from January to August, down 0.3% year-on-year, while Russia exported 55.79 million tons, up 7.3% year-on-year. period.
China’s crude oil imports fell 9.4% in August from a year earlier, as shutdowns at state-owned refineries and low profit margins led to fewer independent plant operations, limiting purchases.
Strong Russian purchases continued to weigh on competing supplies from Angola and Brazil, which fell 34% and 47% year-on-year, respectively, in August.
Customs reported no imports from Venezuela or Iran last month. State oil companies have avoided buying since late 2019 for fear of violating secondary U.S. sanctions.
However, Reuters reported that the defense-focused China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has shipped 25 million barrels of Venezuelan crude to China since the end of 2020, without Chinese customs reporting that.
Customs data on Tuesday also showed that oil imports from Malaysia, which have been frequently used as a transshipment point for oil from Iran, Venezuela and most recently Russia over the past two years, nearly doubled from a year earlier to 3.37 million tonnes, or 3.37 million tonnes. 794,000 barrels per day.
Data showed that China did not import any crude oil from the United States.
The table below shows imports by country, in metric tons, with percentage changes calculated by Reuters.
August y/y pct ytd y/y pct
Saudi 5.16 58,305,841 -0.32
Russia 27.74 56,794,765 7.31
Iraq 4,317,672 -26.03 34,691,741 -5.23
Angola 2,172,622 -33.79 21,484,635 -17.80
Brazil 1,884,586 -46.89 15,912,380 -30.09
United 0 -100.00 4,585,464 -53.91
Malaysia 3,366,979 92.72 17,782,935 73.54
Iran 0 — 780,392 —
Venezuela 0 — 0 —
Oman 2,755,250 -16.22 26,548,047 -11.34
UAE 3,813,907 47.70 26,805,264 42.71
(tons = 7.3 barrels of crude oil)