London — Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest oil supplier with refiners taking advantage of cheap barrels to feed rebounding demand in Asia’s biggest economy following the end of Covid Zero.
The Asian nation imported 7.69 million tons of crude from Russia last month, or 2 million barrels a day, according to Chinese customs data. Flows from Saudi Arabia slipped to the lowest level since June, down 29% from January.
China and India have emerged as major buyers of Russian crude after the war in Ukraine re-shaped global energy flows. Moscow has been offering its oil at discounted prices, a move to entice a shrinking pool of customers and widely welcomed by Asian buyers trying to control inflation.
Demand for transport fuels such as gasoline has returned aggressively in China following the end of Covid restrictions late last year, leading to more frequent traffic jams in major cities. Russia and Saudi Arabia have shared the title of China’s top crude oil supplier more often since the war.
Energy is expected to be among the key topics discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow this week, labeled by Beijing as a journey of “friendship, cooperation, and peace.” Russia is also a major supplier of coal and liquefied natural gas to China.
*Alfred Cang – Bloomberg
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