Long Riyadh’s top crude customer, Japan fell further behind China in the first half of 2019. Volumes fell almost 5% year-on-year to 1.13mn b/d (see data, MEES, 2 August), whilst Chinese imports from Saudi rose a whopping 39% to 1.53mn b/d (MEES, 2 August).

The fall in Japanese buying is due to a combination of factors. Saudi is looking to concentrate lower exports on key growth market China. But also Japan’s overall crude imports are falling (3.07mn b/d for 1H19 versus the 2003 peak of 3.55mn b/d). (CONTINUED - 175 WORDS)