Russia has become China’s biggest supplier of oil as the country sold subsidized crude to Beijing amid sanctions over the Ukraine war.
Russian oil imports rose 55% from a year earlier to record levels in May, displacing Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest provider. China has ramped up purchases of Russian oil despite Covid sanctions and demand from a slowing economy.
In February, China and Russia declared that their friendship had “no boundaries”.
And Chinese companies, including state refining giant Sinopec and state-run Xenhua Oil, have increased their purchases of Russian crude in recent months, as buyers in Europe and the US are offering steep discounts. and has given up Russian energy in line with sanctions on its war on Ukraine. ,
Imports into China, including supplies pumped through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and shipments by sea, stood at around 8.42m tonnes last month, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.
In March, the US and Britain said they would impose sanctions on Russian oil, while the European Union is working to end its reliance on Russian gas, as the West ramps up the economic response to Ukraine’s invasion.
At the time, US President Joe Biden said the move targeted “the main artery of Russia’s economy”. Energy exports are an important source of revenue for Russia, but the move is likely to impact Western consumers as well.
Last week, a report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air think tank said that Russia, despite declining exports, made nearly $100bn (£82bn) from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. ) earned revenue. in May.
The European Union made up 61% of these imports, which are worth about $59bn. Overall, Russian oil and gas exports are falling and Moscow’s revenue from energy sales has also fallen from a peak of more than $1 billion in a single day in March.
But the revenue still exceeded the cost of the Ukraine war during the first 100 days – with CREA estimating that Russia is spending about $876m per day on the invasion.
Monday’s data also showed China imported 260,000 tonnes of Iranian crude last month, marking Iran’s third shipment of oil since last December. Despite US sanctions on Tehran, China continues to buy Iranian oil.