Wednesday, September 27

Saudi Arabia is China’s top crude supplier again as Russian oil falls 9%

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BEIJING — Saudi Arabia regained the spot

as China’s top crude supplier in the first two months of 2022,

having been leapfrogged by Russia in December, while Russian

shipments dropped 9% as a cut in import quotas led independent

refiners to scale back purchases.

Arrivals of Saudi crude totalled 14.61 million tonnes in

January-February, equivalent to 1.81 million barrels per day

(bpd), down from 1.86 million bpd a year earlier, data from the

General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday.

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Imports from Russia totalled 12.67 million tonnes in the two

months, or 1.57 million bpd. That compares to 1.72 million bpd

in the corresponding 2021 period.

Demand for Russia’s flagship ESPO crude from Chinese

independent refineries, known as teapots, was hit by Beijing’s

crackdown on tax evasion and illegal trading of import quotas.

The government also cut its first batch of 2022 crude import

allowances to teapots, aiming to eliminate inefficient refining


Imports from Russia could tumble in March as buyers

worldwide shun its cargoes in the wake of the intensifying

Ukraine crisis. But Reuters reported that Russian producer

Surgutneftegaz was working with China to bypass Western

sanctions and keep up oil sales.

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Sunday’s customs data showed that 259,937 tonnes of Iranian

crude oil arrived in China in January, around the same level as

in December 2021, the first imports recorded by official Chinese

data since December 2020.

The shipments came as Tehran and Western nations hold talks

on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, pointing to a possible lifting

of US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

No Iranian cargo were recorded by Chinese customs in


China’s official data also showed no imports from Venezuela,

which is under US sanctions as well, in January and February.

Here is the detailed breakdown of trade, with volumes in

metric tonnes:

Country Jan-Feb y/y pct

Saudi Arabia 14,607,870 -3

Russia 12,667,252 -9.1

Iraq 10,019,027 -0.4

Oman 8,939,072 14.4

Kuwait 6,323,727 50.2

Angola 6,087,055 -9.7

United Arab Emirates 5,906,030 12.7

Brazil 4,295,928 -12

Malaysia 2,162,063 -12.4

United States 1,866,176 -45

Iran 259,937 N/A

Venezuela N/AN/A

(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton

Editing by Mark Potter)