UPDATE 1-Saudi still China's top oil supplier in Sept; Venezuelan supply diverted

    * Saudi supplies at 1.74 mln bpd
    * Iran supplies at 538,878 T; supplies put into storage -
    * Venezuela shipments sink as CNPC skips loadings for 2nd
    * Malaysia imports soar, Venezuelan crude diverted there -
analyst, data

 (Add details, table)
    BEIJING, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia held its position
as China's largest crude oil supplier in September helped by
demand from new refineries and as imports from Iran and
Venezuela continued to fall due to U.S. sanctions, customs data
showed on Friday.
    The drone and missile attack on oil-processing plants in
Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, knocking out half of the country's
production, will likely have an impact on deliveries in October.

    At the height of the disruption, Saudi Aramco asked
customers to switch their crude grades for loadings in the
second half of September and early October and pushed back crude
and oil product deliveries to customers by days. 
    Saudi oil arrivals reached 7.17 million tonnes in September,
or about 1.74 million barrels per day, data from China's General
Administration of Customs showed. That was lower than the 7.79
million tonnes in August and nearly double the level of 3.784
million tonnes in September 2018.
    Imports in the first nine months were 59.7 million tonnes,
up 55.4% from the same period a year earlier. 
    Elsewhere, rigid sanctions by the United States on Iran and
tensions in the Middle East, continued to dampen imports.
    China's crude oil imports from Tehran were 538,878 tonnes
last month, the data showed. That compared to 787,657 tonnes in
August, and a far cry from 2.13 million tonnes a year earlier. 
    "All the cargoes lifted after the U.S. tightened sanctions
on Iran since May were put into Chinese national reserve sites
(SPR) in Tianjin, Jinzhou, Huizhou and Zhoushan," according to a
latest research note by the Refinitiv Oil Research assessments. 
    Emma Li, senior crude oil analyst with Refinitiv, added that
the tankers that delivered Iranian oil to China since May were
operated by National Iranian Tanker Co., or NITC.  
    Shipments from Venezuela shrank to 588,698 tonnes last
month, data showed, down from 1.45 million tonnes in August and
808,593 tonnes in September last year. 
    The September arrivals reflected one shipment loaded in late
July, according to a Refinitiv assessment.    
    Chinese crude oil buyers have also been warned against
Venezuelan purchases at a government meeting around early
September, Reuters reported. 
    China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) skipped loadings of
Venezuelan oil for a second month in a row in September as the
state oil giant looked to avoid breaching U.S. sanctions.

    CNPC is expected to refrain from loading beyond September
and until Washington provides clear guidance over whether
secondary sanctions would apply. 
    Instead, Venezuelan crude exports have been diverted to the
transshipment hub of Tanjung Bruas of Malaysia, before being
shipped to China branded as new grades such as Singma, Li said. 
    China's Malaysian crude imports were 1.97 million tonnes in
September, customs data showed, sharply up from 646,236 tonnes
in August and 1.35 million tonnes in July.
   Imports of U.S. crude oil fell to 517,982 tonnes last month
from 1.01 million tonnes in August, with Beijing starting to
levy a 5% tariff as trade tensions with Washington escalated.
   Imports from Russia, China's No. 2 supplier for September, 
reached 6.31 million tonnes versus 6.02 million tonnes in
August, and compared with 6.81 million tonnes in September 2018.
   Below are details of imports by key suppliers.
 Country    Sept        y/y     Jan-Sept(tonn  y/y pct
            (tonnes)    pct     es)            change
 Saudi      7,166,799     89.4     59,710,530          55.4
 Russia     6,305,555     -7.4     55,692,856          10.2
 Iraq       4,824,519     31.4     36,351,153          12.7
 Angola     3,127,113    -13.4     35,922,384           2.7
 Oman       2,409,309    -20.3     22,891,150          -7.4
 Malaysia   1,968,245    430.6      8,258,323          30.7
 Venezuela    588,698    -27.2     11,397,015           -15
 Iran         538,878    -74.7     13,283,660         -45.8
 USA          517,982    -50.2      5,183,219         -57.3
    (tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude conversion) 

 (Reporting by Xu Muyu and Tom Daly; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)