he world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, significantly raised its crude sales to the world’s largest oil importer, China, in 2019, boosting its exports to China by 47 percent and beating Russia for the top Chinese supplier spot for the first time in four years, according to Chinese customs data as carried by Reuters on Friday.
While Saudi Arabia restricts production under the OPEC+ deal, it has prioritized shipments to the most prized markets, China and Asia, at the expense of exports to markets such as the United States. In addition, Saudi oil giant Aramco has recently signed supply deals with at least two independent refiners, opening a new avenue for its oil sales in China, according to Reuters. Previously, Saudi Arabia exported oil to China only under long-term deals with the state-held corporations.
In 2019, Russia’s sales on the Chinese market also jumped to a record, but not as much as the Saudi exports, apparently.
According to the customs data crunched by Reuters, Russia’s crude oil exports to China averaged 1.55 million bpd in 2019, up by 9 percent annually, thanks to the ESPO crude grade which was in demand with independent Chinese refiners.