Russia keeps spot as China's top oil supplier for sixth month

BEIJING (Reuters) — Russia beat Saudi Arabia to become China’s top crude oil supplier for a sixth month in August, as independent refiners ramped up purchases and as state-owned refiners bought seaborne shipments from the Russian Far East port of Kozmino.

China’s crude oil imports from Russia in August were 4.426 MMt, or about 1.04 MMbpd, down 4.5% over the same month last year, according to a detailed breakdown of commodity trade data released on Tuesday by the General Administration of Customs.

For the first eight months of 2017, Russia’s volumes rose 13% year-on-year to 38.65 MMt, or 1.16 MMbpd.

Supplies from Saudi Arabia last month dropped 16.2% from a year earlier to 3.657 MMt, or about 861,200 bpd, with the kingdom the third-biggest China supplier, slipping behind Angola.

Shipments from Angola last month surged nearly 28% from a year ago to about 983,500 bpd, the data showed.

Saudi supplies for the January-August period fell 1.7% on-year to 34.24 MMt, or 1.03 MMbpd.

Reuters reported last week that Russian state oil firm Rosneft, the world’s largest producer, is poised to send 50% more ESPO blend crude to state-run Chinese major PetroChina next year compared to 2017.

China’s imports of US crude, which started last year, were about 107,620 bpd in August and totaled 5.26 MMt for the January to August period.

Imports from Iran last month were up 5.45% from the same time a year ago at 3.34 MMt, or 786,720 bpd. That was the highest monthly amount since 2006, according to data on Reuters Eikon.

Imports for Iraq increased 30% to 736,400 bpd, the data showed.

China’s total crude oil imports slid to their lowest level since January at around 8 MMbpd, as some independent plants in the independent refining hub of Shandong closed for longer-than-expected overhauls amid a wave of government environmental checks.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Joseph Radford

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