As a result of China’s refiners taking advantage of discounted supplies in the wake of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the country’s crude oil imports from Russia reached a record high in May, up 55 percent from the same month a year earlier and surpassing Saudi Arabia as the country’s primary supplier.
According to data provided by the Chinese General Administration of Customs, the total quantity of oil imported from Russia came to nearly 8.42 million tonnes. This figure takes into account supplies transported by pipeline from East Siberia to the Pacific Ocean as well as oil transported by sea from ports in Russia’s European and Far Eastern regions.
This is an increase of about a quarter over the previous month’s output of 1.59 million barrels per day (bpd), which was 1.98 million barrels per day. The most crude oil is imported by China of any country in the world.
After western oil majors and trading houses drew back owing to sanctions, Chinese companies, notably the state-run refining giant Sinopec and the state-run Zhenhua Oil, have scaled up their purchases of Russian oil. They have been attracted by significant discounts as a result of the pullback.
In May, Saudi Arabia’s production increased by 9 percent year-over-year, reaching 7.82 million tonnes, which is equivalent to 1.84 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia was the second-largest provider. This was a decrease from the previous month’s total of 2.17 million bpd.
After a gap of 19 months, Russia climbed back to the top spot in the rankings.
According to data from China’s customs bureau that was published on Monday, the country bought 260,000 tonnes of crude oil from Iran in November. This was China’s third shipment of oil from Iran since December of last year. This finding confirms a previous story from Reuters.
China has continued to purchase oil from Iran despite sanctions imposed by the United States. These purchases are often disguised as coming from other nations. The amounts of import are about comparable to seven percent of China’s total crude oil imports.
From a low foundation a year earlier, China’s total crude oil imports increased about 12 percent in May to 10.8 million bpd, which is higher than the 2021 average of 10.3 million bpd.
According to Customs, there were no imports from Venezuela. Since the end of 2019, state-owned oil companies have avoided making acquisitions because of worry that they may violate secondary sanctions imposed by the United States.
In the past two years, Malaysia has often served as a transfer point for oil coming from Iran and Venezuela. In April, imports from Malaysia totaled 2.2 million tonnes, which is the same amount as in April of the previous year but more than twice the level from the previous year.
The supply of barrels from the Latin American exporter encountered cheaper competition from barrels exported by Iran and Russia, which resulted in imports from Brazil falling by 19 percent from the previous year to 2.2 million tonnes.