Singapore — China’s oil imports from Russia soared 22% in September from a year earlier, but were a touch behind top supplier Saudi Arabia, as independent refiners bought more lower-priced Russian fuel in the face of weak domestic refining margins.
Supplies from Russia, including oil pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totalled 7.46 million tonnes, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.
The amount, equivalent to 1.82 million barrels per day (bpd), eased from 1.96 million bpd in August and compared to the record high of nearly 2 million bpd in May.
Imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia reached 7.53 million tonnes, or 1.83 million bpd, versus August’s 1.99 million bpd and were 5.4% lower than a year earlier.
The bumper Russian purchases, against a 2% year-on-year decline in China’s total crude oil imports, continued to squeeze out competing supplies from top West African exporter Angola, volume from which fell 36% on the year, data showed.
In the first nine months, Saudi Arabia held the top spot with volumes of 65.84 million tonnes, down 1% on the year. Russian volumes rose nearly 9% to 64.26 million tonnes, a close second.
Customs data also showed imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the past two years for oil originating from Iran, Venezuela and more recently Russia, more than doubled to a fresh high of 4.05 million tonnes. That surpassed the previous record set in August of 3.37 million tonnes.
China also received about 795,000 tonnes of U.S. crude oil in September, after zero imports in August.
No imports were recorded from either Venezuela or Iran.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Jamie Freed – Reuters
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