Russia remained China’s top oil supplier for the second month in a row in June, as Chinese customers took advantage of lower-cost supplies, reducing more expensive imports from Saudi Arabia, according to statistics released on Wednesday.

According to Chinese General Administration of Customs figures, imports of Russian oil were 7.29 million tonnes, up over 10% from a year earlier, including supplies pumped through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne exports from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports.

Nonetheless, Russian supply in June were 1.77 million barrels per day (bpd) lower than the May high of nearly to 2 million bpd, which experts anticipated to be maintained.

China purchased 5.06 million tonnes from Saudi Arabia, or 1.23 million barrels per day, down from 1.84 million barrels per day in May and 30% less than in June last year.

Year-to-date imports from Russia were 41.3 million tonnes (1.67 million bpd), up 4% from the previous year but still below Saudi Arabia, which delivered 43.3 million tonnes (1.75 million bpd), a volume 1% lower than the previous year.

China’s total crude oil imports fell to around a four-year low in June, as strict lockdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus cut fuel consumption. The increase in Russian imports displaced supply from Angola and Brazil.

China purchased 260,000 tonnes of Iranian crude oil this month, the fourth cargo since December, according to Customs statistics, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

Despite US sanctions, China has continued to import Iranian oil, which is frequently disguised as shipments from other nations. These supplies, which account for around 7% of China’s overall crude oil imports, are being challenged by rising Russian shipments. 

Customs recorded no Venezuelan imports. State-owned oil companies have avoided purchases since late 2019, fearing secondary US sanctions.

Imports from Malaysia, which has frequently served as a transfer point for oil originating in Iran and Venezuela in the last two years, increased 126 percent year on year to 2.65 million tonnes.

Separately, data show that China imported 520,530 tonnes of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG), the second highest monthly volume since at least the beginning of 2021.

Russian LNG imports for the first half of 2022, largely from the Sakhalin-2 project in the Far East and Yamal LNG in the Russian Arctic, increased over 30% year on year to 2.36 million tonnes, according to the statistics.

During the same time period, the country’s total LNG imports fell by 21% year on year.

Source: Reuters


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