Angola ranks as Biggest Oil Supplier to China

April 22-- Angola was the top supplier of crude oil to China in the first quarter, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman and Russia as the world's second-biggest energy user boosted purchases to ease a domestic shortage.

Angola exported 8.48 million metric tons of crude to China in the three months ended March 31, about 688,000 barrels a day and 55 percent more than a year earlier, the Beijing-based Customs General Administration said today. Saudi Arabia shipped 8.18 million tons, a 38 percent increase.

China's oil imports surged 25 percent to a record 17.3 million tons in March as refineries expanded processing to ease a gasoline and diesel shortage that deepened as farmers started planting their crops. African grades, such as those supplied by Angola, are favored for their relatively low sulfur content and high yields of auto fuels.

``The trade figures show strong demand from the domestic market,'' said Gong Jinshuang, an oil analyst at China National Petroleum Corp., the country's biggest producer of the fuel. ``When long-term supplies from countries like Saudi Arabia can't meet domestic demand, we have to boost spot purchases,'' Gong said by telephone from Beijing.

Saudi Arabia was the largest crude supplier to China in 2007, when its shipments rose 10 percent to 26.3 million tons. Angola exported 25 million tons, ranking second.

Iran, Oman and Russia were among China's five largest suppliers during the first quarter, shipping 5.8 million, 3.3 million and 3.1 million tons respectively, the customs figures show.

Angola was China's biggest crude oil supplier in March, when imports from the African country increased by 47 percent to 3.65 million tons.

Only the U.S. consumes more energy than China.


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