MOSCOW (Realist English). In the first two months of 2023, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the main supplier of oil to China. This is reported by the Chinese government.
China used to import 1.94 million barrels per day from Russia, while oil imports from Saudi Arabia for the same period amounted to 1.72 million barrels per day. Shipments from Russia rose 23%, while those from Saudi Arabia fell to their lowest level since June, down 29% from January.
The world oil trade has undergone changes due to Russia’s military operation in the Ukraine. Last year, the EU and the UK banned the import of Russian oil. In February, the ban on Russian oil products, including fuel oil, followed. These steps coincided with the establishment by the G7 countries of the cap on prices for Russian oil and related products.
China and India have become major buyers of Russian oil, reducing the market share of the Persian Gulf countries in Asia. Meanwhile, the Gulf states are redirecting their sales to Europe, where Russia has long been the dominant supplier.
According to experts of the Middle East Eye, the European Union and the United States “are courting countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia to help oust Russian energy carriers from Europe.”
Meanwhile, Beijing remains the largest buyer of oil from the Persian Gulf countries. In 2021, China imported crude oil from Saudi Arabia worth $43.9 billion, which is more than a quarter of all Saudi oil exports.