Russia remained the top crude oil supplier to China in January, data showed, starting 2018 on a strong note after the operation of an expanded trans-Siberia pipeline began and as China released more crude import quotas for independent refiners.
Angola and Iraq took the second and third positions for the month, respectively, leapfrogging Saudi Arabia, which was the second-largest supplier to China for 2017.
Russian supplies came in at 5.67 million tons, or 1.34 million barrels per day (bpd), up 23.4 percent from a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Saturday.
The January number compares with December's 1.194 million bpd.
In January, data showed that Russia bagged its second year as China's largest supplier in 2017, surpassing Saudi Arabia - the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' top exporter - by some 150,000 bpd.
The strong Russian exports to the world's largest crude oil buyer came as a second East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, as well as expanded domestic connections in China, started their commercial operations in January.
In a reshuffle of the pack, Angola ranked second with 4.68 million tons, or 1.1 million bpd, of crude in January, down 5.4 percent year-on-year.
China imported 4.45 million tons, or 1.05 million bpd, of crude from Iraq, up 28 percent year-on-year.
Saudi Arabia supplied 4.29 million tons, or 1.01 million bpd, to China in January, down 15 percent from the same year-ago rate. That number compares with December's figure of 1.11 million bpd.
Even so, exports from the kingdom are expected to rise to record levels in 2018 as Saudi Aramco ramps up supplies to China's State-run oil firm China National Offshore Oil Corporation, as well as the Huajin refinery owned by defense giant Norinco.
Customs data also showed that China's oil imports from the U.S. soared to 2.01 million tons last month, or roughly 472,508 bpd. That compares with just 257,861 tons posted a year ago.
Source: Global Times