Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports en route to China in December were 20 percent lower compared to November, which would be the lowest level of Saudi crude sales to China in 2017, early Bloomberg tanker tracking data showed on Wednesday.
According to the tanker tracking figures, less than 3.5 million tons of crude oil, or 25.6 million barrels of oil, left Saudi Arabia en route to Chinese ports in December.
The route takes around 20 days to complete, and China will publish its December country-by-country crude oil imports data around January 22, which would confirm whether the Saudis had in fact drastically cut crude shipments to China last month.
For December, the Saudis had cut total crude oil exports by 120,000 bpd from just above 7 million bpd in November, reducing shipments to all regions, including a 10-percent reduction of oil exports to the U.S.
Saudi Arabia will cut crude oil exports to Asia by more than 100,000 bpd in January compared to December, while keeping its shipments to Europe and the U.S. at the December levels, the Saudi Energy Ministry said at the beginning of December.
China, on the other hand, boosted its crude oil imports in November 2017 to 9.01 million bpd—the second highest on record, according to data provided by China’s General Administration of Customs. Related: Is ISIS About To Attack Libyan Oil?
In the detailed country-by-country import data, China said last week that Russia held onto its no.1 spot as the biggest crude oil supplier for a ninth month running, with Saudi Arabia second.
China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose by 11 percent on the year in November, to 1.26 million bpd, while second-placed Saudi Arabia saw its crude oil sales down 7.8 percent annually to 1.056 million bpd.
Russia was also the biggest oil supplier to China between January and November, with sales rising 15.5 percent on the year to 1.2 million bpd, and overtaking Saudi Arabia by 159,000 bpd.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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