In the first two months of 2023, Russia increased its crude oil sales to China by almost a quarter. It overtook Saudi Arabia to become China's largest oil supplier.
This is reported by Reuters, citing data from the Chinese government, Ukrinform says.
According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs, in January-February, oil imports from Russia reached 15.7 million tonnes. This is almost 2 million barrels per day. It's 23.8% more than in the same period in 2022.
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Last year, Russia was the second-largest crude oil supplier to China. The country exported 86.2 million tons of crude oil during the year.
Saudi oil imports totaled 13.92 million tonnes over two months. This is equivalent to 1.7 million barrels per day, compared to 1.8 million barrels a year earlier.
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In 2022, Saudi Arabia was China's largest oil exporter. The country supplied 87.5 million tonnes of crude oil over the year. This is equivalent to 1.75 million barrels per day.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Western sanctions were imposed and a cap was introduced on Russian oil prices.
This has reduced the number of buyers of Russian hydrocarbons. As a result, Russian oil is being sold at a steep discount.
Among the main beneficiaries of the Russian oil price cap were non-state Chinese refiners. Many of them are located in the eastern province of Shandong. Early in the year, they bought Russian crude at a discount of about $8 per barrel compared to the benchmark Brent.
As Ukrinform reported on Monday, March 20, oil prices continued to fall after last week's decline. The drop was the most significant since last summer.