April 26, 2020 / 11:49 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-China's March crude imports from Saudi slip, Russia up 31% -customs

 (Corrects Iran imports to 255,779 tonnes, down 88.9%, in
paragraph 10, not 2.558 mln tonnes and up 11.3%; fixes table
    BEIJING/SINGAPORE, April 26 (Reuters) - China's March crude
oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia fell 1.6% from a year
earlier, while purchases from No.2 supplier Russia rose 31%,
Reuters' calculations based on customs data showed on Sunday.
    China's March crude oil imports rose 4.5% year on year to
9.68 million barrels per day (bpd) as refiners stocked up on
cheaper cargoes despite falling domestic fuel demand and cuts in
refining rates due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 7.21 million tonnes, or 1.7
million bpd, data from the General Administration of Customs
    That was down from 1.73 million bpd a year earlier and
average daily imports of 1.79 million bpd during the first two
months of this year. 
    Russia supplied 7.02 million tonnes last month, or 1.66
million bpd, down from 1.71 million bpd recorded for the first
two months, the data showed. 
    While state refiners mostly maintained deep production cuts
in March to reduce their fuel stocks, independent plants cranked
up run rates as the oil price plunge triggered partly by Saudi
and Russian pledges to increase supply boosted refining margins.
    Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as other producers have
since reached a new agreement on output cuts, helping to lift
oil prices off historical lows but with many saying that deeper
reductions will be needed.     
    China's imports from the United States remained close to
zero in March. After falling last year because of the U.S.-China
trade war, they are expected to pick up later in 2020 after
Beijing started granting tariff waivers on U.S. goods including
crude oil from early March. 
    There were no shipments from Venezuela for a fifth month in
a row, as China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)           ,
Caracas's top oil client, steered clear of Venezuelan crudes to
avoid violating secondary U.S. sanctions.
    Also, data showed China's imports from Iran at 255,779
tonnes, down 88.9% from a year earlier.  
    Below are details of imports from China's key suppliers.
Volumes are in million tonnes, with the percentage changes
calculated by Reuters. 
 Country       March       y/y%       Jan-March   y/y%
 Saudi Arabia        7.21       -1.6  21.949      15.3
 Russia              7.02       31.2  21.073      16.7
 Angola              3.99       30.2  10.304      -18.7
 Iraq               5.598       45.7  16.222      42.4
 Iran               0.256      -88.9  0.922       -84.2
 Malaysia           1.054        107  4.634       232
 (1 tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude conversion)

 (Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore;
editing by Tom Hogue and Jason Neely)
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