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BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia in November fell 13% from a year earlier, but the kingdom retained its ranking as the top supplier to the world’s biggest oil importer.

Inflows of Saudi Arabian oil to China reached 7.4 million tonnes last month, or 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

That compares with 1.67 million bpd in October and 2.06 million bpd in November last year.

The rising month-on-month imports were in line with the decision in July of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, to increase output by 400,000 bpd a month until at least April 2022.

China’s imports in November from its second-biggest crude oil supplier, Russia, stayed at about a similar level from a month ago at 6.7 million tonnes, or 1.63 million bpd.

Chinese independent refineries, who mostly favour Russian grades, are holding limited crude oil import quotas for use at the end of this year.

Crude oil arrivals from Brazil and Angola declined by 28% and 18%, respectively, from a year earlier although sellers from West Africa and the Americas are striving to grab bigger market shares in Asia.

Traders said Chinese buyers would not be easily tempted by more affordable barrels from those regions, with independent refiners allocated slimmer import quotas this year and state companies already well supplied. November shipments from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, surged 71% and 31%, respectively, from a year ago.

Official data has consistently recorded zero imports from Iran or Venezuela since the start of this year.

The table below shows details of imports by main suppliers, with volumes in metric tonnes. Volumes during January-November period and the percentage changes are calculated by Reuters.

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