Russia has become China’s biggest supplier of oil as the country sold discounted crude to Beijing amid sanctions over the Ukraine war.
Imports of Russian oil rose by 55% from a year earlier to a record level in May, displacing Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest provider.
Chinese companies, including state refining giant Sinopec and state-run Zhenhua Oil, have increased their purchases of Russian crude in recent months after being offered heavy discounts as buyers in Europe and the US shunned Russian energy in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine.
The imports into China, which include supplies pumped through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and shipments by sea, totalled nearly 8.42 million tonnes last month, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.
That pushed Saudi Arabia – formerly China’s biggest source of crude oil – into second place with 7.82 million tonnes.
In March, the US and UK said they would ban Russian oil, while the European Union has been working towards ending its reliance on the country’s gas, as the West steps up the economic response to the invasion of Ukraine.