China's oil imports from Saudi Arabia increased by 47% in 2019, Reuters reported, citing customs data. This followed a new strategy by Saudi Aramco, which expanded its customer base to include private refiners, not only state refiners.
Saudi Arabia shipped 1.67mn barrels per day (83.32mn tonnes) to China in 2019, and in December 2019 shipped 6.99mn tonnes.
Shipments from the US were almost halved, due to the trade war between the two nations, with no December imports recorded. However, as part of the Phase 1 deal to end the dispute between the two countries, China pledged to buy a minimum of $52.4bn worth of US energy products in the next two years.
Research from Refinitiv showed that China continued to purchase a limited amount of Iranian oil after the US applied sanctions against Iran. In 2019, it imported approximately 14.77mn tonnes, half of the amount it imported in 2018.