Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, held onto its position as the largest crude oil supplier to China in 2020, the General Administration of Customs of China data released Wednesday showed.
Annual Saudi oil shipments to China, the world's biggest oil importer, in 2020 amounted to approximately 1.69 million barrels per day, up 1.9% year-over-year, according to the data.
Russia was ranked as the second-biggest supplier, shipping slightly less at 1.67 million barrels per day to China, and marking an increase of 7.6% compared to 2019, the data showed.
In 2020, Iraq was the third-biggest supplier of crude oil to China, while Brazil was fourth, capitalizing on the buying binge of Chinese refiners in the spring and summer when oil prices were at multi-year lows.
China also imported a total of 28.7 million barrels of Iranian crude in 2020, with a 73.5% year-on-year decline, according to the data.
However, shipments from the Middle East jumped 13% year on year in 2020, outpacing China's total crude import growth of 7% in the year, the data revealed.
Despite the limited increase from Saudi Arabia and the sharp decline from Iran, 44.4% rises from Iraq, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE enabled the Middle East to hold 46.7% of China's market share.
Furthermore, the country's imports from the US tripled in 2020, totaling 394,000 barrels per day as companies stepped up purchases under a trade deal with Washington D.C.
China had suspended crude imports from the US between December 2019 and April 2020 due to the trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. The inflow resumed in May last year when the world's top crude importer stepped up buying from the US to meet the Phase 1 trade deal agreement between the top two economies.
China's oil demand remained strong in 2020 with purchases of 10.85 million barrels of oil per day, representing an increase of 7.3 percent year-on-year, even though the Covid-19 pandemic has undermined fuel demand all over the world.
By Busranur Begcecanli