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Iraq plugs Saudi crude supply gap in China

Iraq plugs Saudi crude supply gap in China

BAGHDAD: Saudi Arabia’s strong commitment to the OPEC agreement to limit crude production may have helped some of its rival producers gain market share in Northeast Asia, with China recently boosting its oil imports from Iraq as competitive Basrah crude prices and the supplier’s stable output appealed to the giant Asian energy consumer. Latest data from Beijing showed that Chinese refiners could have switched focus to Iraq for a significant chunk of their monthly crude feedstock requirements amid sliding Saudi crude exports to Asia. China’s crude oil imports from Iraq in November surged 47.2% on year and 58.8% on month to hit a record high of 4.21 million mt or an average 1.03 million b/d, making the Persian Gulf producer its third-largest supplier, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed. “If Saudi refuses to sell much, [Asian end-users] must find another big reliable [supply] source in the Middle East arbitrage [spot purchases from] US, Mexico, Europe alone cannot fully make up for the decline [in Saudi term barrels],” said a Northeast Asian sour crude trader.