Saudi Arabia maintained its spot as China's largest supplier of crude in August for the second straight month, official customs data showed on Wednesday.
Saudi oil arrivals in August in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, amounted to 7.79 million tons, or 1.83 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed, compared with 6.99 million tonnes in July and nearly double the 4.134 million tonnes level a year earlier.
Amid sanctions by the United States on Tehran and rising Middle East tensions, China’s oil imports from Iran were 787,657 tons, the data showed, down from July’s 926,119 tons and far below 3.28 million tons of the year-ago period.
China said days after the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that knocked out half the output of the world’s top oil exporter that the nation’s crude reserves, including stocks held at strategic petroleum storage sites and commercial inventories, are sufficient to cover 80 days of imports, just short of a 90-day target.
Imports of US crude oil reached 1.01 million tons last month, versus 1.5 million tons in July, with volumes likely to more than halve in September as Beijing started levying a five percent tariff as the trade war with the United States escalated.
Imports from Russia, China’s No.2 supplier for August, reached 6.02 million tons, up from 5.673 million tons in July and 5.7 million tons in August last year.
Oil prices dropped Wednesday, logging a second straight day of losses after US crude inventories unexpectedly rose and on worries that demand could fall after US President Donald Trump’s comments about trade talks with China.
Trump criticized on Tuesday China’s trade practices at the United Nations General Assembly and said he would not accept a “bad deal” in US-China trade negotiations.
He, however, said on Wednesday a deal to end a nearly 15-month trade war with China could happen sooner than people think.
Trump also said he saw a path to peace with Iran, cooling other risk premiums built into oil price. Yet, he denounced its “bloodlust.”
US crude oil stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week as refineries trimmed production, the country’s Energy Information Administration said.
Crude inventories rose by 2.4 million barrels in the week to Sept. 20, compared with analyst expectations for a 249,000-barrel decline.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for US crude futures rose 2.3 million barrels, the EIA said.
Refinery utilization rates fell 1.4 percentage points, and refinery crude runs dropped by 194,000 bpd, EIA data showed.
Gasoline stocks rose by 519,000 barrels compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 296,000-barrel increase.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by three million barrels, versus expectations for a decline of 733,000 barrels, the data showed.