China's crude oil imports from Russia down 4%, Saudi down 30% as buying frenzy cools

BEIJING (Reuters) - Russia and Saudi Arabia remained the top two crude oil suppliers to China in October, although arrivals from both countries plummeted from September levels as Chinese refiners put a brake on crude purchases.

The two countries, which have been boosting crude exports to the economic powerhouse, are in a tight race to become China’s top supplier in 2020.

Inflows from Russia, including pipeline oil, last month reached 6.64 million tonnes, equivalent to 1.56 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday.

That compared with 1.82 million bpd in September and 1.64 million bpd in October last year.

Saudi Arabia supplied 5.94 million tonnes, or 1.4 million bpd, down 29% from the same period a year earlier.

Russian ESPO premiums had dipped to three-month lows for October delivery and have further fallen for November delivery amid tepid fuel demand. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia also had deep cut to its October OSPs to Asia.

China, the world’s biggest oil buyer, is forecast to see more crude oil being cleared by customs as port congestion eases.

China’s imports from the United States dropped from a record high of 3.9 million tonnes in September to 1.63 million tonnes, customs data showed.

According to Refinitiv trade flows, an all-time high of 4.63 million tonnes of U.S. crude is expected to reach Chinese ports in November.

Below are details of imports from key suppliers, with volumes in metric tonnes.

Country October(t y/y % change Jan-Oct y/y % change

onnes) (tonnes)

Russia 6,640,388 -4.4 71,262,567 13.8

Saudi Arabia 5,936,831 -29.5 69,503,558 2

Iraq 4,613,361 -6.4 51,840,847 25.6

Angola 3,524,037 15.9 34,538,966 -11.3

Brazil 3,240,274 -15 36,931,158 12.1

Oman 3,115,928 3.8 31,100,783 20.1

U.S. 1,625,638 79 12,549,595 106

Malaysia 705,046 63.8 10,130,980 892.8

Iran 263,388 -50.6 3,139,200 -77.3

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; Editing by Christopher Cushing