Russia overtakes Saudi Arabia as China's chief oil supplier

Russia overtakes Saudi Arabia as China's chief oil supplier
Saudi Arabia's position as the key oil supplier to the rising superpower China has been eclipsed by Russia.
2 min read
20 March, 2023
Saudi oil shipments to China decreased at the start of this year [Getty]

Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China's chief oil supplier, with imports of nearly 2 million barrels a day from the sanctions-hit country entering the East Asian country.

January and February 2023 saw a massive 24 percent increase in Russian oil imports from the same period last year, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

It comes as Moscow offers cut-price oil to its economic partners in Asia as a way of shoring up finances and influence in the world since the disastrous invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, with prices around $8 below the ICE Brent benchmark.

Moscow has been under heavy US and European sanctions since the invasion, with China using intermediaries to purchase Russian oil.

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This has seen Russian oil imports to China increase massively, while Saudi oil dropped from 1.81 million barrels per day (bpd) in January-February 2022 to 1.72 million this year.

India has also taken advantage of Moscow's big oil discounts to become the world's biggest buyer of Russian oil, as well as other commodities such as coal.

Neither country condemned the invasion of Ukraine and the position of New Delhi in particular has vexed the US which has sought to isolate Moscow internationally and cripple Russia's economy following the assault.

China President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Monday for a landmark three-day visit to the country just days after ICC judges issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.