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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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China Snaps Up Record-High Volumes Of Russian Crude In The First Half Of 2023

  • In the first half of 2023, China imported 2.13 million barrels per day of Russian crude oil, making Russia its single biggest supplier.
  • In June, China once again imported record-breaking levels of Russian crude, a 44% increase compared to the same month in 2022.
  • Total Chinese oil imports are also soaring, with the country importing the second-highest monthly import figure on record in June.

Despite an apparent weakness in its economy, China is importing record volumes of oil and is buying record amounts of Russian crude to add to stockpiles.

During the first half of 2023, Chinese imports of Russian crude oil averaged 2.13 million barrels per day (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 June alone, China broke – for yet another month – the record for importing Russian crude oil, per data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters. Chinese imports from Russia averaged 2.56 million bpd last month, a surge of 44% compared to the same month in 2022, the Chinese customs data showed.

The previous record, of 2.29 million bpd, was set in May as Chinese refiners continued to buy discounted Russian oil. The discounts for Russia’s crude narrowed relative to the benchmarks in June, but this didn’t stop China from boosting imports and breaking in June the record from May.

China’s imports from Saudi Arabia also rose in June, compared to May and June last year. But at 1.93 million bpd in June 2023, those imports still trailed behind the record-breaking Chinese crude oil imports from Russia.

Total Chinese oil imports are also surging. China’s crude oil imports in June jumped by 45.3% on the year to the second-highest monthly figure on record, as refiners continued building up inventories despite weak domestic demand. Oil imports in June totaled 12.67 million bpd—a sharp increase from a year ago when the country was still under Covid-19 lockdowns.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 20 2023 said:
    Both China and India have been breaking records in their imports of Russian crude importing 2.3 million barrels a day (mbd) and 2.26 mbd in June respectively or 98% of total Russian crude exports.

    Moreover, China has broken all its previous records of crude imports importing more than 12.67 mbd in June while its domestic demand rose to 17.37 mbd, the highest in its history and accounted for 57% of the global demand growth of 3.0 mbd.

    Furthermore, China’s economy grew by 6.3% in the second quarter of 2023. This is higher than the growth rate of 5.2%-6.5% projected early this year for China by both the World Bank and the IMF and the highest among the major economies of the world. This is more than 5 and 8 times bigger than the anaemic US growth of 1.2% and the EU’s 0.8% respectively.

    And yet, authors like the author of this article and some of her colleagues at oilprice.com still talking erroneously about weaknesses in China’s economy when the weaknesses are obviously in America’s and the EU’s economies.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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