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China’s Imports Of Russian Crude Oil Hit A Record High

China’s crude oil imports from Russia soared to an all-time high of 2.29 million barrels per day (bpd) in May as refiners in the world’s top crude oil importer continue to buy discounted Russian oil.  

China’s imports of Russian crude oil jumped by 15.3% compared to May last year and surged by 32.4% compared to the 1.73 million bpd crude imports from Russia in April, per data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, Russia’s main competitor in the Chinese market and Moscow’s partner in the OPEC+ deal, shipped 1.72 million bpd of its crude to China in May, down by 16% month-on-month.

Russia again overtook Saudi Arabia as the top supplier of crude oil to China in May, after the Kingdom held the top spot briefly in April.

Early this year, Russia was the single largest crude oil supplier to China in January and February, overtaking Saudi Arabia, which was the number-one supplier of oil to China last year.

China and India are the key export outlets for Russian crude and oil products now that Russian exports are embargoed in the EU and under a price cap to countries that adhere to the $60 a barrel price cap for Russian crude oil.

China and India accounted for at least 56% of total Russian exports of crude and products in May, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report last week.

India’s oil imports from Russia continued to surge as cheaper Russian crude exports find more and more buyers in the world’s third-largest crude oil importer. India’s Russian oil imports in May alone, at 1.96 million bpd, were higher than the 1.74 million bpd in India’s combined imports from the next four largest suppliers - Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the U.S.


Russian oil accounted for a massive 42% of all Indian crude imports, compared to negligible volumes India had imported before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on June 20 2023 said:
    Between them, China and India are virtually buying more than 4.39 million barrels a day (mbd) of Russian crude. When their purchases of Russian petroleum products are added, the figure rises to 5.04 mbd.

    Russia is headed for another record-breaking exports of 8.4 mbd of crude and petroleum products in June with China and India accounting for 60% of the total.

    Moreover, Russia is selling its oil at far higher prices than the Western price cap and only very few dollars below market prices.

    China’s imports of 2.26 mbd of Russian crude out of a total of just over 13.0 mbd give the lie to Western disinformation trying to shift the blame for the continued weakness in oil prices from US banking system difficulties and fears that they may precipitate a global banking or financial crisis to China.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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