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China stepped up crude oil imports from both Russia and Saudi Arabia last month, with the Saudis returning to the top spot of Chinese oil suppliers.
Citing customs data from Beijing, Reuters reported that Russian oil shipments to China went up by 28 percent on the year in August, to 1.96 million barrels daily. Saudi oil imports, meanwhile, rose by 5 percent on the year to almost 2 million barrels daily.
Earlier this year, Russia replaced Saudi Arabia as China’s largest supplier of crude thanks to the price discount prompted by European Union sanctions.
On a year-to-date basis, Russian oil exports to China were 7.3 percent higher on the year while Saudi exports to Asia’s powerhouse were down by a modest 0.3 percent on the year.
Oil imports from Brazil and Angola were a lot more substantially down last month, the data showed, with shipments from Brazil down by 47 percent last month and those from Angola down by 34 percent.
China’s total oil imports in August fell by 9.4 percent on the year, to some 9.5 million bpd, data released earlier this month showed. This was due to lukewarm demand from refiners amid refinery outages and unappealing refining margins.
Run rates among independent Chinese refiners were lower during the month, at some 65 percent, which contributed to lower demand.
The August import average was, however, higher than the average for July, which stood at 8.79 million bpd. The average of oil imports into China for the first eight months of the year stood at 9.92 million barrels daily, the data showed.
The eight-month oil import average was a 4.2-percent decline on the year and largely the result of Covid-related restrictions as Beijing remains firm about its zero-Covid policy despite its effect on economic activity and oil demand specifically.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.