Russia‘s surging oil exports to China in August fail to keep Saudis down

China's crude oil imports from Russia in August surged 28% from a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, but it handed back its top supplier ranking to Saudi Arabia for the first time in four months.
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, totaled 8.342 million tonnes, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed. The August amount, equivalent to 1.96 million barrels per day (BPD), was slightly off May's record of nearly 2 million BPD. China is Russia's largest oil buyer. 

Russian imports rose as Chinese independent refiners extended purchases of discounted Russian supplies that elbowed out rival cargoes from West Africa and Brazil. Tuesday's customs data showed imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the past two years for oil originating from Iran, Venezuela, and more recently Russia, nearly doubled from a year earlier, to 3.37 million tonnes, or 794,000 BPD, a record high.

Still, imports from Saudi Arabia rebounded last month to 8.475 million tonnes, or 1.99 million BPD, 5% above the year-ago levels.
Saudi Arabia also remains the biggest supplier on a year-to-date basis, shipping 58.31 million tonnes of oil from January to August, down 0.3% on the year, versus 55.79 million tonnes from Russia, which was up 7.3% from the year-ago period.