Malaysian crude flows to China surpass Iraq with record volume

China imported a record volume of crude from Malaysia last month as flows from the minnow producer surpassed that of major OPEC members Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Imports from Malaysia were at 5.52 million tons in December, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. That’s equivalent to 1.3 million barrels a day, or almost triple the average daily crude output from the Southeast Asian nation over the first nine months of 2022.

The seas near Malaysia have long been a hub for transferring crude and petroleum products from one tanker to another, sometimes to mask the origin. Barrels from Iran and Venezuela have previously been re-branded and passed off as oil from Malaysia and Oman.

Malaysia was China’s third-biggest supplier of crude last month, trailing Saudi Arabia and Russia. Shipments from Iraq were at 5.06 million tons, while flows from the UAE were at 4.95 million tons.

Overall, China imported 35.7 million tons of crude from Malaysia last year, making the Southeast Asian nation the sixth biggest supplier, ahead of Brazil, and OPEC members Kuwait and Angola. –BLOOMBERG