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Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports to China fell in July, taking it out of the top two supplier slots for the first time in two years, after a historic production cut to cope with a plunge in fuel demand and prices owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saudi Arabia shipped 5.36 million tonnes to China last month, the equivalent of 1.26 million barrels a day, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday. That compares with 8.88 million tonnes in June and 6.99 million tonnes in July last year.

Russia, the biggest crude supplier to China in July, shipped 7.38 million tonnes, or 1.74 million b/d. Iraq rose to second place, shipping 5.79 million tonnes of crude oil to China.

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Iraq failed to meet its output reduction target in May and June, when other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known together as OPEC+, agreed to cut the equivalent of about 10 per cent of global output to shore up oil prices.

But Iraq said it would cut an additional 400,000 b/d in both August and September, on top of its 850,000 b/d commitment under the OPEC+ pact.

Crude imports from the United States in July rose 139 per cent year-on-year to 3.7 million tonnes as Chinese bargain hunters boosted purchases of U.S. crude grades after benchmark crude future prices became negative in April.

China imported 387,792 tonnes of crude oil from Malaysia in July, down 71 per cent from a month ago, the data showed.

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