BEIJING (Reuters) - Russia overtook Saudi Arabia for the third time this year in November as China’s largest crude oil supplier, customs data showed on Monday, as Russia captures fresh demand from China’s new crude buyers.
China brought in about 949,925 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude oil in November, compared with 886,950 bpd from Saudi Arabia, data from the General Customs Administration showed.
For the first 11 months, Saudi remained the No.1 seller with total supplies at 46.08 million tonnes, or around 1.01 million bpd, up 2.1 percent over the year-ago period.
Russia, which ramped up exports by 28 percent over the same period, supplied 37.62 million tonnes, or about 822,200 bpd.
China has since July allowed more than a dozen mostly independent companies to import crude oil for the first time, pushing its crude oil purchases to new highs while Beijing has also stepped up its strategic stockpiling.
With a rigid allocation system and destination restrictions on contracts, Saudi crude is less appealing to China’s new crude importers when compared to Russian grades, traders have said.
Cheaper freight costs for Russian crude versus suppliers from outside the Asia-Pacific region were also helping Russia boost its exports to China, traders said.
Saudi Arabia has extended annual crude oil contracts with China for 2016 at almost unchanged volumes for a third year, as buyers bet on abundant global supplies and low prices to widen their purchase options, sources said earlier this month.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Adam Rose; Editing by Richard Pullin