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Bloomberg: China on track to receive record levels of Russian oil imports in March

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 18, 2024 3:45 PM 2 min read
An oil worker at a Tatneft facility, an oil company operating in Tatarstan, Russia, on June 4, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Alexander Manzyuk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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China is on track to receive a record level of Russian oil imports for the month of March, Bloomberg reported on March 18, citing data from the analytics company Kpler.

Reuters reported in January 2024 that Russia had surpassed Saudi Arabia to become China's largest supplier of oil. While India has also remained a critical market for Russian oil, payment issues, in part related to Western sanctions, have caused delays in the trade of oil between the two countries.  

The U.S., the EU, and other partners have banned the import of Russian seaborne oil, although the product continues to flow to some European countries via pipelines. The Group of Seven (G7) countries have also imposed a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian crude shipped to global markets.

Data from Kpler indicated that China was set to receive 1.7 million barrels of Russian crude oil per day for the month of March, a figure that includes triple the previous all-time high level of Sokol oil. The increase is in part related to the reduction in India's purchase of oil, Bloomberg reported.

It is unclear if China plans to buy all the oil outright, or if some will be ultimately redirected to other countries. Some Chinese banks are wary of falling under U.S. sanctions targeting the trade of Russian oil, Bloomberg said.

U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order in December 2023 to tighten restrictions on the financial backers of Russia's war, which has decreased the flow of funds to third-party countries.

The threat that even unwitting collaboration could result in sanctions or loss of access to the U.S. financial system has caused foreign banks to be more proactive about avoiding doing any business with Russia, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in February 2024.

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