China has subtly increased purchases, buying record amounts of Russian energy last month, according to sources, while Europe shuts off the faucets on Russian oil shipments.
Chinese imports of Russian crude oil increased by 55 percent in May compared to the same month last year, displacing Saudi Arabia as China’s main oil supplier.
Due to international sanctions imposed on Russia and its energy sector as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, Chinese oil refiners have benefited from the discounted supply of Russian crude.
According to the Chinese General Administration of Customs, a record 8.42 million tonnes of crude oil, or 1.98 million barrels per day, entered China last month via Siberia and through the far-eastern ports of Russia.
Russia has looked for new markets for its energy goods after losing out on the European market, with the exception of Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia, which chose to keep their Russian oil supply. Moreover, Russia is able to mitigate the effects of Western sanctions and maintain funding for its expensive conflict against Ukraine by growing other markets.
China also bought 56 percent more Russian liquefied natural gas over the same period in 2021 than it did before (LNG). LNG deliveries from Russia’s far-eastern gas pipelines increased by 22 percent in the first five months of this year.
After a 19-month absence, Russia just reclaimed the top spot among countries that buy crude oil, showing that Moscow can evade international sanctions through price cuts.
Additionally, “Russia has diverted a large share of exports to India and China,” stated energy analyst Sergei Vakulenko for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also said that Western sanctions meant that Russia would likely take over the Asian market in years to come.
In the previous year, Russia sold about 33 billion cubic metres of gas to Asia, which is less than 20 percent of the size of the European market. Nevertheless, experts warn that Russia will slowly attempt to shift its infrastructure to increase sales in the region.