Saudi retains top spot for China crude imports in Aug; Iran sales plunge

    BEIJING/SINGAPORE, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia held on
to its spot as China's largest supplier of crude in August for
the second straight month, official customs data showed on
Wednesday, although this month's attack on Saudi oil processing
facilities may end the run. 
    Saudi oil arrivals in August in China, the world’s biggest
oil importer, reached 7.79 million tonnes, or 1.83 million
barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of
Customs showed, compared with 6.99 million tonnes in July and
nearly double the 4.134 million tonnes level a year earlier. 
    Amid sanctions by the United States on Tehran and rising
Middle East tensions, China's oil imports from Iran were 787,657
tonnes, the data showed, down from July's 926,119 tonnes and far
below 3.28 million tonnes of the year-ago period.    
    Most of the August arrivals were discharged at Jinzhou and
Tianjin ports in China's northeast, where China has state
reserve and commercial tanks, indicating volumes continuing to 
flow into the country's strategic storage sites, according to
Refinitiv Oil Research. 
    China said days after the drone attack on Saudi oil
facilities that knocked out half the output of the world's top
oil exporter that the nation's crude reserves, including stocks
held at strategic petroleum storage sites and commercial
inventories, are sufficient to cover 80 days of imports, just
short of a 90-day target.     
    Imports from Venezuela in August were at 1.45 million
tonnes, customs data showed, double the 703,742 tonnes in July,
but still down 18.6% from 1.78 million tonnes a year earlier. 
    All the August arrivals from Venezuela were loaded in July,
said Emma Li, analyst at Refinitiv Oil Research, as China
National Petroleum Corp, a leading buyer of the South American
crude, halted loadings in August and September amid concerns
over potential risk from secondary U.S. sanctions. 
    Imports of U.S. crude oil reached 1.01 million tonnes last
month, versus 1.5 million tonnes in July, with volumes likely to
more than halve in September as Beijing started levying a 5%
tariff as the trade war with the United States escalated. 
    Imports from Russia, China's No.2 supplier for August,
reached 6.02 million tonnes, up from 5.673 million tonnes in
July and 5.7 million tonnes in August last year. 
    Below lists the details of imports by key suppliers. 
 Country   Aug         y/y     Jan-Aug(to  y/y pct
           (tonnes)    pct     nnes)       change
 Saudi      7,788,824    88.4  52,543,384        51.6
 Russia     6,022,349     5.6  49,386,752        12.9
 Iraq       4,507,144    12.9  31,527,549        10.3
 Angola     3,598,331   -11.6  32,798,342         4.5
 Oman       2,595,009    -8.7  20,471,200        -5.7
 Venezuel   1,449,505   -18.6  10,817,145       -14.2
 USA        1,013,965    -9.9   4,665,271         -58
 Iran         787,657     -76  12,744,782         -43
 (Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore;
Editing by Tom Hogue and Muralikumar Anantharaman)