SINGAPORE: China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose to a record 55% in May from a year earlier, pushing Saudi Arabia to become a top supplier as refiners were disrupted amid sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
According to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, the total is about 8.42 million tons, including Russian oil imports, supplies pumped through the East Siberian Pacific Ocean pipeline, and maritime shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports.
That equates to about 1.98 million barrels per day (bpd) and more than 1.59 million bpd in April. China is the world’s largest importer of crude oil.
Chinese companies, including state-owned refining giant Sinopec and state-run Zhenhua oilLarge Western oil companies and trading houses have stepped up their purchases of Russian oil, tempted by huge discounts after being pulled out due to sanctions.
Saudi Arabia lags behind as the second-largest supplier, rising 9% year-on-year to 7.82 million tonnes or 1.84 million bpd in May. This was down from 2.17 million bpd in April.
Russia has regained the top spot after a gap of 19 months.
Customs data released on Monday also showed that China imported 260,000 tonnes of Iranian crude last month, the third shipment of Iranian oil since last December, confirming an earlier Reuters report.