Saudi Arabia holds spot as China’s top crude supplier in April, UAE imports plunge
China’s imports from Saudi Arabia slowed in April but the kingdom retained its position as China’s top supplier of crude oil for an eighth consecutive month, customs data showed on Thursday, while arrivals from the United Arab Emirates plunged.
Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 6.47 million tonnes last month, or 1.57 million barrels per day (bpd), hitting their lowest since October, data from the General Administration of Chinese Customs showed on Thursday.
Imports from Russia also dipped in April from a month earlier, to 6.3 million tonnes, or 1.53 million bpd, in line with a scaleback in Chinese crude purchases as refiners faced narrowing margins.
Total crude oil imports into China, the world’s largest buyer, dipped 0.2% on year in April to the lowest since December.
Imports from Oman and the United Arab Emirates fell 8% and 40% from year-ago levels respectively, a possible sign that shipments of Iranian oil were slowing from record volumes in previous months.
Reuters has reported that Iran has sold record amounts of oil since late 2020, passed on as crude oil from other origins that included Oman and the UAE.
Customs recorded zero imports from Iran for a fourth month in a row.
The customs’ database also showed a 52% fall to 762,107 tonnes of imports from Malaysia, which traders said has been a key transshipment point for heavy crude blends from Venezuela.
Official data has consistently recorded zero imports from Caracas since October 2019 as U.S. sanctions on the South American exporter kicked in.
Imports from the United States reached 927,925 tonnes, down from March’s 1.36 million tonnes but compared with zero imports a year earlier.