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Russia leads as top crude supplier to China, overtakes Saudi
Oil pumps in operation at an oilfield near central Los Angeles on February 02, 2011. World oil prices recently rallied close to $100 per barrel, as traders absorbed impressive fourth-quarter US economic growth and fretted over worsening political turmoil in Egypt. Most other commodity markets also won support this week from news that the US economic recovery picked up speed in the last three months of 2010, stoking hopes of strengthening demand for raw materials. The US economy grew at its fastest clip in five years in 2010, the Commerce Department reported, as the country bounced back from recession and fears of a double-dip recession ebbed. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia leads as top crude supplier to China, overtakes Saudi

Russia became the largest crude oil supplier to China in May, supported by robust demand from private refiners and alongside a fall in supplies from Iran.

Imports from Russia came in at 6.36 million tonnes in May, or 1.50 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

On a barrels per day basis, imports were up 4 per cent from a year ago, but were flat versus April when China’s total crude oil imports hit a monthly record.

For the first five months of the year, shipments from Russia were 30.54 million tonnes or 1.48 million bpd, up 9.8 per cent from a year ago, customs data showed.

Iranian supplies to China fell to 254,016 bpd in May from 789,137 bpd in April and 763,674 bpd a year ago.

Chinese oil majors Sinopec and CNPC skipped Iran oil purchases for May after the expiry of a waiver on US sanctions.

Arrivals from Saudi Arabia fell 25 per cent last month from a year ago to 1.108 million bpd. That compared with 1.53 million bpd in April.

Ongoing refinery maintenance in the second quarter such as Sinoepc’s Luoyang refinery affected crude demand from state refiners that often favours Saudi grades as feedstock.

Imports of US crude came in at 786,637 tonnes in May, or 185,240 million bpd, up from 116,272 bpd in April.

For the first five months, China’s crude imports from the United States fell 80 per cent from a year ago to 1.35 million tonnes or 65,264 bpd. Buying has dwindled amid an escalation of trade tensions, even though the Chinese government has not raised tariffs on US oil despite raising duties on U.S. LNG and coal.