China To Import Record Amounts Of Russian Oil In Defiance Of US-Led Sanctions

(Sputnik/Aleksey Druzhinin/Kremlin)

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Chinese companies are on track to purchase a record amount of Russian oil in March, defying Western sanctions, according to Reuters Thursday.

China is set to purchase approximately 43 million barrels of Russian crude oil in March, up roughly half a million barrels from the previous record of 42.48 million barrels set in June 2020, Reuters reported, citing data from tanker analytics firms Vortexa and Kpler. Both Chinese and Indian demand is set to surge in March, with Moscow offering discounts following a $60 price cap on Russian oil imposed by the European Union, as Chinese companies continue to flout a variety of U.S.-led sanctions. (RELATED: Russia Bans Oil Exports To Countries That Enforce Price Cap)

“Price is the king,” a purchasing manager for a Chinese refinery told Reuters. In some cases, Russia was offering oil to China at discounts of more than $13 a barrel compared to the average international price of oil.

State-owned firms PetroChina and Sinopec resumed purchase of Russian crude in February, after a brief pause following the imposition of the E.U.’s price cap in December, according to Reuters. State-owned refineries have generally been more hesitant than independent refineries, which comprise the majority of China’s seaborne imports of Russian oil, to acquire Russian crude due to sanctions concerns.

Russian oil has been sent through China to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, where it is blended with other countries’ oil to alter the oil’s country of origin, Reuters reported in February. After this blending, the oil can then be shipped West, avoiding sanctions.

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