Russia held on as China’s largest crude oil supplier for the ninth month in a row in November, also topping Saudi Arabia for the year so far, Chinese customs data showed on Tuesday. Shipments from Russia in November reached 5.12 million tonnes, or 1.26 million barrels per day (bpd), up 11 percent from a year ago, according to detailed commodity trade data for last month from China’s General Administration of Customs.
That compared to October’s 1.095 million bpd in Russian oil imports, and a record set in September at 1.545 million bpd. Saudi Arabia came in second, with November imports from there dropping 7.8 percent from a year ago to 1.056 million bpd.
For the first 11 months of the year, Russian supplies expanded 15.5 percent on the year to 54.77 million tonnes, or 1.2 million bpd, overtaking Saudi Arabia by 159,000 bpd. The boost in Russian supplies was supported in part by robust demand from China’s independent refineries, and also by increases in supplies via a trans-Siberia pipeline.
Iraq supplies ranked third in November with shipments at 4.21 million tonnes, or 1.023 million bpd. Year-to-date Iraq supplied 5.5 percent more oil than a year earlier at 762,900 bpd, the data showed.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other non-OPEC producers on November 30 extended an oil output-cutting deal until the end of 2018 in a bid to finish clearing a supply glut. But market watchers are increasingly interested in how producers will exit the deal once the excess is cleared.
US shipments to China – which have benefited from the OPEC-led output cuts – last month came in at 1.18 million tonnes, or 288,260 bpd. Supplies for January-November period totalled 6.8 million tonnes, or 148,600 bpd.
China’s total crude oil imports rebounded to the second highest on record last month to 9.01 million bpd, with imports partially driven by a new additional batch of import quotas released to independent refiners.