China’s oil imports from Russia increased by 22% in September compared to the same month last year, but they lagged Saudi Arabia somewhat as independent refiners increased their purchases of cheaper Russian fuel in response to low local refining margins.
Data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs revealed on Monday that supplies from Russia, comprising oil produced via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne cargoes from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totaled 7.46 million tones.
The amount, which equates to 1.82 million barrels per day, decreased from 1.96 million bpd in August and was lower than the maximum point of almost 2 million bpd in May.
In comparison to August’s imports of 1.99 million barrels per day, imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia totaled 7.53 million tones, or 1.83 million bpd, and were 5.4% lower than a year ago.
The record Russian purchases continued to stifle rival supplies from leading West African exporter Angola, whose volume plummeted 36% on the year, in contrast to a 2% year-over-year decline in China’s total crude oil imports, statistics showed.
Saudi Arabia kept the top rank in the first nine months with volumes of 65.84 million tones, down 1% from the previous year. Russian volumes, which came in second, increased by over 9% to 64.26 million tones.
Data from customs also revealed that imports from Malaysia, which had been frequently utilized in the previous two years as a transfer point for oil coming from Iran, Venezuela, and most recently Russia, had more than doubled to a new high of 4.05 million tones. That broke the previous record of 3.37 million tones, which was achieved in August.
After no imports in August, China also received around 795,000 tones of American crude oil in September.
No imports from Iran or Venezuela were noted.