China's crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia rose 8.8% in March from a year earlier, driven by strong demand and as shipments delayed due to a port congestion finally arrived.
Imports from the United Arab Emirates also rose again, up 86%.
Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 7.84 million tons, equivalent to 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd), data issued by China's General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday, versus 1.7 million bpd a year earlier. The imports, however, slowed from 1.94 million bpd in February.
Saudi Arabia retained its position as China's biggest crude oil supplier for a seventh consecutive month.
Ports at China's oil refining hub Shandong experienced congestion for a few weeks in February, slowing oil arrivals.
Analysts from Refinitiv expect arrivals from Saudi Arabia to further drop in April given a voluntary supply cut of 1 million bpd by the producer and increasing prices of Arab light crude for the Asian market.
The customs data also showed that crude oil supplies from Kuwait increased to 0.6 million bpd, up 29% from a year earlier.
China's imports from the UAE were at 0.71 million bpd last month, up 86% on year. Shipments from Oman rose 60% from a year ago to 0.86 million bpd.
Meanwhile, China's Sinopec has won a deal to develop Iraq's Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border, the oil ministry said on Tuesday.
Last year Iraq cancelled a contract signed with a group led by the Turkish Petroleum Corp (TPAO) to develop the Mansuriya field and decided to invite international energy companies to compete to develop it.
Iraq’s state-run Midland Oil Company will partner Sinopec in development of the Mansuriya field, the statement said.
Under the 25-year contract, Sinopec will hold a 49 percent stake and Midland Oil Company will hold 51 percent, the statement added.
Sinopec will help Iraq to capture and process natural gas from the field and boost output to 300 million cubic feet of gas per day (mcf/d) as a targeted production level, the statement quoted Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar as saying.
No timeline was provided.
Iraq is planning to sign contracts with foreign energy companies to develop its gas fields and build gas facilities in southern Iraq and Anbar province, the ministry cited Jabbar as saying.
Gas captured from the field will be used to feed power stations in Baghdad and Diyala province near the border with Iran.