China stepped up its crude oil imports from Russia and Saudi Arabia last month, with the Saudis returning to the top spot among Chinese oil suppliers.
Citing Beijing customs data, Reuters reported that Russian oil shipments to China rose 28% year on year in August, to 1.96 million barrels per day. Saudi oil imports, meanwhile, rose 5% on the year to nearly 2 million barrels per day.
Earlier this year, Russia replaced Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest crude supplier thanks to the price cut brought about by European Union sanctions.
Year-to-date, Russian oil exports to China are up 7.3% on the year, while Saudi exports to the Asian powerhouse are down a modest 0.3% on the year. year.
Oil imports from Brazil and Angola fell much more last month, the data showed, with shipments from Brazil down 47% last month and those from Angola down 34%.
China’s total oil imports in August fell 9.4% on the year to some 9.5 million bpd, according to data released earlier this month. This was due to lukewarm demand from refiners amid refining shutdowns and unattractive refining margins.
Fill rates among independent Chinese refiners were lower during the month, at around 65%, which contributed to lower demand.
August’s import average, however, was above July’s average of 8.79 million bpd. China’s average oil import for the first eight months of the year was 9.92 million barrels a day, the data showed.
Eight-month average oil imports fell 4.2% on the year and largely the result of Covid-related restrictions as Beijing remains firm on its zero Covid policy despite its effect on activity economy and the demand for oil in particular.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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