China’s crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia rose 15% in June from a year ago, as refiners ordered record volumes of the fuel in March and April when oil prices tumbled, cementing the kingdom’s position as the top oil supplier to China.
Imports from Saudi Arabia rose to 8.88 million tonnes in June, or 2.16 million bpd, in June, according to data from the General Administration of Customs on Sunday.
That was in line with May’s volumes, but well above 1.89 million bpd during the same period last year.
The record imports follow a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top oil exporters, during March and April when the coronavirus pandemic dampened demand and caused a global fuel glut. Shipments from Russia were at 7.98 million tonnes last month, or 1.95 million barrels per day (bpd), up around 7% from 1.82 million bpd in May and 1.73 million bpd in June 2019.
Saudi, however, delivered bigger oil cuts from June and raised crude prices as a plunge in oil prices weighed on the kingdom’s budget. China, the world’s biggest crude oil importer, took in a record 53.18 million tonnes last month, according to customs data.
China also boosted inflows from Brazil, Norway and Angola, said Emma Li, analyst from Refinitiv.
Brazil, whose massive offshore projects are coming online, offered Asian refiners competitive deals on relatively high-quality oil just as China and other Asian countries contained the coronavirus and reopened their economies.
Analysts expect China to see another record amount of crude imports in July as some May-loading cargoes are still underway while swelling oil inventory at major Chinese ports slows new arrivals.