China is reported to be snapping Russia’s seaborne oil exports, hitting a record high in March as the former snaps up the commodity at huge discounts.
China is expecting a whopping 43 million barrels of crude oil from Russia in March, according to tanker tracking companies Vortexa and Kpler,
The figure tops the previous high set in June 2020, when China snapped up 42.48 million barrels, according to the news outlet. China dominated the league of Russia’s oil patrons since President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last year.
In February, Russia sold the most crude and fuel oil to China since launching its war against Ukraine, delivering 1.66 million barrels a day.
With its ties with the West under strain, Moscow has emphasised a “no limits” strategic partnership with China. Russia is aiming to hit $200 billion of trade with China this year as it seeks to take the relationship to a new level.
The increased buying from Chinese refiners comes as the world’s second-largest economy emerges from zero-COVID policies, stoking demand for energy. It’s also been snapping up Russian crude in the absence of Western buyers, which has subsequently led to lower prices for Asia.
Analysts cited by Reuters said Russia’s flagship crude Urals was trading at a $14-a-barrel discount to the global benchmark ICE Brent Crude. However, robust demand from China is likely to elevate prices and reduce those steep discounts, the news outlet cited a China-based oil trader as saying.
The price of Russian oil could also rise as Moscow threatens to retaliate against price caps imposed by the West, by potentially slashing 25% of its crude exports from the spot market.
By Ken Okoye