Russia has become China's main oil supplier for the third month running during July, according to information from Hong Kong market analysts. Apparently independent refiners stepped up purchases of discounted supplies while cutting shipments from rival suppliers such as Angola and Brazil.
Imports of oil from Russia, including supplies pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totaled 7.15 million tons, up 7.6% from a year ago, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed.
Still, Russian supplies in July, equivalent to about 1.68 million barrels per day (BPD), were below May’s record of close to 2 million BPD. China is Russia’s largest oil buyer.
Imports from second-ranking Saudi Arabia rebounded last month from June, the lowest in more than three years, to 6.56 million tons, or 1.54 million BPD, but still slightly below the year-ago level.
Year-to-date imports from Russia totaled 48.45 million tons, up 4.4% on the year, still trailing behind Saudi Arabia, which supplied 49.84 million tons, or 1% below the year-ago level.
China’s crude oil imports in July fell 9.5% from a year earlier, with daily volumes at the second lowest in four years, as refiners drew down inventories and domestic fuel demand recovered more slowly than expected.
The strong Russian purchases squeezed out competing supplies from Angola and Brazil, which fell 27% year-on-year and 58%, respectively. Such a trend was already visible in Petrobras’ second-quarter earnings, Brazil’s largest exporter.
The war in Ukraine changed the company’s oil export flows. For example, China’s share of the Brazilian company’s purchases was 15% in the second quarter, compared to 45% in the same period last year.