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Saudi Arabia Remains China’s Top Oil Supplier

Saudi Arabia Remains China’s Top Oil Supplier

Monday, 21 November, 2022 - 09:00
An engineer is seen at an oil complex on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, 200 km north of Dammam, Saudi Arabia. (Aramco)

Saudi Arabia remained China's top supplier with volumes of 73.76 million tons, similar to the same period last year.

Saudi shipments rose 12 percent from a year earlier to 7.93 million tons, or 1.87 million bpd, versus September's 1.83 million bpd.

China’s oil imports from Russia jumped 16 percent in October from the same month last year to just behind top supplier Saudi Arabia, as state-run firms stocked up before a European embargo over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kicked in.

Supplies from Russia, including oil pumped through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totaled 7.72 million tons, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday.

That amount, equivalent to 1.82 million barrels per day, was steady from September but off May’s record of nearly 2 million bpd.

State-run traders including Unipec, Zhenhua Oil, and Chinaoil ramped up imports of Russian Urals, loaded mostly from European ports, before winding down purchases in recent weeks in the face of imminent EU sanctions and uncertainty surrounding a Group of Seven plan to cap Russian oil prices.

January-October Russian supplies rose 9.5 percent on year to 71.97 million tons, helped by refiners’ consistent appetite for the discounted oil.

Arrivals of crude oil from the United States jumped more than fivefold in October from a year earlier, as refiners took advantage of lower prices amid a surge in US exports from rising output and stockpile releases.

Malaysia, which for the past two years has been a transfer point for shipments originating from Iran and Venezuela, almost doubled in the year to 3.52 million tons.

No imports were recorded from Venezuela or Iran.

On Friday, oil prices dropped by two percent due to concerns about weakened demand in China and further hikes in US interest rates.

Brent crude settled at $87.62 a barrel, falling $2.16 or 2.4 percent, while US West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $80.08 a barrel, losing $1.56 or 1.9 percent.

Brent was down 9 percent and WTI was 10 percent lower.

A stronger US dollar, which makes oil more expensive to non-American buyers, pushed down crude prices.

The market structure of both oil benchmarks shifted in ways that reflect dwindling supply concerns.

Crude came close to record highs earlier this year as Russia's invasion of Ukraine added to those worries.

In addition, the front-month futures contract soared to a gigantic premium over later-dated contracts, a signal that people were worried about the immediate availability of oil and were willing to pay handsomely to secure supply.

Those supply concerns are waning.

The current WTI contract is now trading at a discount to the second month for the first time since 2021, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

This condition will also benefit those looking to put more oil in inventories for later, especially with stocks still at low levels.

Brent was still in the opposite structure, backwardation, though the premium of nearby Brent over barrels loading in six months fell as low as $3 a barrel, the lowest since April.

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