Despite higher oil prices and narrower discounts of Russian crudes to international benchmarks, Russia remained the single largest crude oil supplier to China in July, ahead of its OPEC+ partner Saudi Arabia, according to Chinese customs data.
Chinese imports of crude from Russia averaged 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, a 13% increase compared to July 2022, although arrivals from Russia were lower than the record-high hit in June, per the data released by China’s General Administration of Customs on Sunday and reported by Reuters.
In June, China broke the record for importing Russian crude oil, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters. Chinese imports from Russia averaged 2.56 million bpd in June, a surge of 44% compared to the same month in 2022.
During the first half of 2023, Chinese imports of Russian crude oil averaged 2.13 million bpd, which helped Russia oust its OPEC+ partner Saudi Arabia from the top spot as the single biggest supplier to the world’s top crude importer so far this year, per Financial Times estimates based on Chinese customs data. Imports from the world’s top crude oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, averaged 1.88 million bpd between January and June, according to FT’s calculations.
In July, Chinese crude imports from Russia again exceeded those from Saudi Arabia, which dropped by 14% from July last year and fell by 31% from June 2023, according to Reuters calculations based on China’s official figures.
Total Chinese crude oil imports slumped last month compared to June, although they were higher than in July 2022. China’s crude oil imports averaged 10.29 million bpd in July, compared to a near-record 12.67 million bpd in June. The July imports were 17% higher compared to the same month last year when China was still under strict Covid-related lockdowns.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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