Russia Remains China's Top Oil Supplier for 12th Consecutive Month in April

(Reuters) — Russia was China's top oil supplier in April for a 12th month, with volumes rising 30% from a year earlier, official data showed, as refiners continued to cash in discounted shipments, while supplies from Saudi Arabia fell a quarter on higher prices.

China's crude oil imports from Russia, which include supplies sent via pipelines and the sea, were 9.26 million metric tons last month, or 2.25 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

That is down from March's 2.55 million bpd and the record in June 2023 of 2.56 million bpd.

In April, Russia cut its crude supply by 150,000 bpd to 9.3 million bpd, according to the IEA's monthly oil market report. That was still 200,000 bpd above the production target it agreed to with other major producers.

Year-to-date imports from Russia gained 17% from a year earlier to 37.79 million tons, or about 2.28 million bpd, making up 21% of total imports into the world's largest crude oil importer.

Imports from Saudi Arabia, which was last China's biggest supplier in April 2023, were 6.34 million tons, or 1.54 million bpd, down 25% from a year earlier.

The kingdom had raised its April selling price for oil to Asia to $1.70 a barrel above the Oman/Dubai average, up from $1.50 previously.

Imports from Malaysia, a key transshipment hub for oil from Iran and Venezuela and the fourth largest source of imports, held largely steady year-on-year at about 980,000 bpd.

A U.S. official appeared to raise some concerns about the transshipments during a visit to Singapore and Malaysia this month by noting that Iran's capacity to move its oil is reliant on service providers based in Malaysia, with oil being transferred near Singapore and throughout the region.

Monday's data also recorded 0.19 million tons of imports from Venezuela, taking the year-to-date volume to 0.92 million tons, or 55,000 bpd, amid a temporary relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Caracas.

Sanctions were re-imposed last month after the U.S. said President Nicolas Maduro had failed to meet election commitments.

Customs recorded no imports from Iran.

(1 metric ton = 7.3 barrels for crude oil conversion)

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