China continued to snap up Russian energy products last month, including a record quantity of crude oil, lifting purchases to $7.47 billion — about $1 billion more than April and double the amount of a year ago.
The increase in shipments came as the war in Ukraine entered a fourth month and other buyers continued to shy away from Russian oil, gas, and coal. Chinese demand also started to show some improvement as virus restrictions were loosened, easing logistical snarls, and allowing industrial production to rebound.
China’s total imports from Russia accelerated in May, surging 80% on year to $10.27 billion, as Beijing continues to offer support to an otherwise isolated government in Moscow.
Crude imports rose 55% from a year ago with Russia overtaking Saudi Arabia as China’s main source of oil, according to customs data released on Monday. Imports of Russian oil, including supplies pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totalled nearly 8.42 million tons.
Chinese firms, including state refining giant Sinopec and state-run Zhenhua Oil, have ramped up purchases of Russian oil, enticed by steep discounts. China is the world’s biggest crude oil importer.
Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales rose 54% to 397,000 tons, despite a 28% decline in China’s overall purchases of the super-chilled fuel.
The volume of gas excludes imports from pipelines, which haven’t been reported by customs since the start of the year, but are the main mode of transporting the fuel from Russia to China.
Escalating tensions with the West have pushed forward Russia’s ‘Pivot to the East’, a long-term strategy to diversify its resource exports to Asian countries, especially China, Energy Voice reported previously.