Saudi Arabia saw its crude oil exports to China surge by 53 percent annually in August, keeping its status of top supplier to the world’s largest oil importer for a ninth consecutive month, official Chinese data cited by Reuters showed on Monday.
Saudi Arabia once again beat Russia to the top supplier spot, not only because major oil producers within the OPEC+ alliance are easing their cuts, but also because China significantly slashed oil import quotas for its independent refiners in the third quarter. Russia’s ESPO crude blend is generally very popular with those refiners, commonly known as teapots.
Last month, China’s imports of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, soared by 53 percent compared to August 2020, and reached 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd), as per Reuters calculations of data in tons from China’s General Administration of Customs.
Russia remained the second-largest supplier of crude oil to China. Its shipments also rose, but by just 12.6 percent year over year to 1.59 million bpd in August. The volume of imports from Russia was nearly unchanged last month compared to 1.56 million bpd shipments from Russia during the previous month.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia narrowly beat Russia to hold onto the title of the single largest oil supplier to the world’s biggest oil importer.
For most of last year, Saudi Arabia and its key partner in the OPEC+ deal, Russia, were head-to-head in a very close race for the top spot as the biggest crude oil supplier to China.
Over the past few weeks, Chinese refiners have started to boost overall crude oil imports after several months of slowdowns in spot market oil cargo buys. Lockdowns in response to the latest resurgence of Covid
-19 were one reason for the slowdown in Chinese spot market oil purchases. Another was a shortage of import quotas as the government clamped down on independent refiners.