Russian exports accounted for one-third of all Beijing's oil imports in May, increasing 20 percent from April to over 3.9 million tons - equivalent to 927,000 barrels per day - Bloomberg has reported, citing data from China's customs agency. This makes Russia China’s top oil supplier for the first time since October 2005.
In April, Saudi Arabia delivered only 3.05 million tons of oil to China. However, shipments from Angola overtook those from Saudi, with the country selling close to 3.26 million tons - a 14 percent rise from April - Bloomberg reported.
“This is a clear sign of how spoilt Asia is for choice these days, with Middle Eastern crude now having to compete with oil from other regions,” Amrita Sen - the chief oil-market analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. - a London-based consultant, said in an e-mail.
In October 2013, Russia and China strengthened their oil based trade when Rosneft and China’s Sinopec signed a $85 billion deal allowing 100 million tons of crude to enter China over a 10 year period.
Based on another $270 billion oil deal signed at the 2013 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum between Russian state oil company Rosneft and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Rosneft is anticipated to export 360.3 million tons of crude to Beijing.
“Russia is increasingly looking east and the various deals made between Rosneft and China are likely to see more Russian crude head to China permanently.”
The Kremlin is looking to expand its trade with Asia as Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis overshadow the country.
When Russia annexed Crimea, the European Union and the US issued several sanctions on Sept. 14, 2014 aimed at restricting Moscow’s banking, energy and arms industries, following accusations of Russia providing military and political support to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
However, the current sanctions haven’t demoralised Putin as he believes they could even be used to benefit the Russian economy.
“Sanctions make an impact, contribute to our troubles, but [are] not the main thing,” he said.