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Saudi Retains Top Spot among China Oil Suppliers

Saudi Arabia has remained China’s number-one crude oil supplier, customs data for October has shown, per a Reuters report.

Saudi oil exports to China during that month were up by 19.5 percent from a year earlier, averaging 1.67 million barrels daily. While up on the year, this was down on September, when Saudi exports to China totaled 1.94 million bpd.

This means Saudi Arabia has been the top oil supplier of China for 11 months in a row now, Reuters noted, with the average daily import rate for the period January to October rising by 5.8 percent on the previous year.

In that, the Kingdom replaced Russia, which held the number-one spot for most of last year. This year, however, crude oil imports from Russia were down by 7.7 percent for the first ten months of the year.

At the same time, refinery runs in the country rose during October, which, according to Reuters columnist Clyde Russell, meant that refiners tapped oil in storage. Russell noted that in the past seven months, refinery runs have been higher than the combined amount of domestic production and imports of oil on five occasions.

The two OPEC+ partners Saudi Arabia and Russia are rivals for the Chinese market, as the country is among the biggest consumers and importers of crude. In that, they also compete with Iran, for whom China is a lifeline as it has continued buying Iranian crude despite U.S. sanctions.

According to customs data, China continued importing crude from Iran in the third quarter at a rate of over half a million bpd.

China’s October total, however, slipped to a three-year low because of the government’s crackdown on independent refiners. Besides environmental and tax evasion investigations, Beijing has also hit the private refiners with lower oil import and fuel export quotas.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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