Japan’s crude imports fell for the sixth straight year to 3.058mn b/d for 2018. Though the country remains the world’s number four crude importer behind China (9.26mn b/d), the USA (7.80mn b/d) and India (4.53mn b/d), volumes are over 1.1mn b/d down on the record 4.18mn b/d set in 2008.

Saudi is far and away number one supplier with 1.164mn b/d, 38.1% of the total, for 2018 (see data, p18). But 2018 will likely mark the last year for which Japan is Saudi Arabia’s top customer. Japan’s lead over China shrank from 250,000 b/d for 2017 to a mere 29,000 b/d for 2018. China was already well ahead in Q4, taking 1.45mn b/d from Saudi Arabia. Recent bumper term contracts suggest at least this volume for 2019 (MEES, 30 November 2018). (CONTINUED - 133 WORDS)