Chinese buyers slashed purchases of expensive Saudi Arabian crude, data showed on Wednesday, allowing cheaper Russian oil imports to take top spot for the second month in a row.
However, the equivalent of about 1.77 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil were shipped to China – a drop from May’s record of 1.98 million bpd, a level that analysts had expected to be maintained.
Imports of Russian oil totalled 7.29 million tonnes, up nearly 10% from a year ago, according to Chinese General Administration of Customs data.
China imported 5.06 million tonnes from Saudi Arabia, or 1.23 million bpd, down from 1.84 million bpd in May and 30% below the level in June last year.
Year-to-date imports from Russia totalled 41.3 million tonnes, up 4% on the year but still trailing behind Saudi Arabia, which supplied 43.3 million tonnes.
China’s total crude oil imports sank in June to near a four-year low as rigid lockdowns to contain the spread of coronavirus reduced fuel demand.
The rise in imports from Russia also displaced supplies from Angola and Brazil.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell