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China’s crude imports from Oman, UAE jump as Iranian barrels fall

China’s crude oil imports from Oman and the United Arab Emirates rose 30% and 61%, respectively, in the first two months of 2021 from the same year-ago period, data from Chinese customs showed on Saturday, as some Iranian barrels were believed to have slipped in.

Data from the General Administration of Chinese Customs showed imports from Oman totalled 7.78 million tonnes and those from the UAE 5.25 million tonnes during the January-February period.

Reuters reported that Iran has “indirectly” moved record volumes of oil into China in recent months, marked as supplies from Oman, the UAE and Malaysia. Most of the oil ended up in east China’s Shandong province – a hub for the country’s independent refineries.

Saturday’s data recorded zero imports from Iran in the first two months of 2021, versus 668,287 tonnes a year earlier, due to U.S. sanctions.

China raised total crude oil imports in the two months by 4.1% over the same period of 2020 supported by firm fuel demand and expanded refining capacity.

Customs data also showed shipments from Saudi Arabia were up 2.1% on year at 15.06 million tonnes, or about 1.86 million barrels per day (bpd), retaining its position as top supplier.

Imports from second-largest supplier Russia reached 13.93 million tonnes, or 1.72 million bpd.

Shipments from Brazil, China’s fourth-largest oil supplier for the whole of 2020, fell 36% on year to 4.88 million tonnes.

China brought in 3.42 million tonnes of U.S. oil in the two-month period, versus zero from a year earlier.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Chen Aizhu, Muyu Xu and Emily Chow; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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