Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, regained its position as China’s top crude supplier in June, after losing out to Russia over the previous three months, customs data showed on Thursday.
China imported 4.569 million tonnes of crude from Saudi Arabia in June, or 1.112 million barrels per day (bpd), down 14.2 percent on the year but beating 961,000 bpd in May.
Saudi imports edged up 0.24 percent in the first six months of the year versus a year ago to an average of 1.06 million bpd.
Russian exports to China have benefited from good demand by independent refiners since late 2015 after the country allowed them to import crude for the first time.
China imported 4.107 million tonnes, or around 999,420 bpd, of crude in June from Russia, down from a record 1.24 million bpd in May.
Russian imports rose 35.3 percent in the first half to 1.05 million bpd, just behind Saudi Arabia.
“Beijing is probably quite pleased with the competition for shares of China’s crude oil market,” said Washington-based China energy expert Erica Downs of the Eurasia Group.
“The government doesn’t want to be too dependent on any one supplier, so competition between major suppliers is a welcome development, especially if it results in lower prices.”