Russia Takes Title of Top Oil Supplier to China for the First Time Ever in 2016; Unseats Saudi Arabia

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s top oil supplier last year for the first time ever amid the ongoing battle for market share in the world’s biggest energy market, Bloomberg reports.

The recent takeover as top supplier to China comes as analysts parse comments made by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Khalid al-Falih in Davos, Switzerland last week.

Khalid al-Falih.

Khalid al-Falih.

According to Bloomberg, Russia boosted crude supply to the Asian nation “by 24 percent from 2015 to 52.5 million metric tons, or 1.05 million barrels per day, according to data released Monday by the General Administration of Customs.” Saudi Arabia was unseated and became the second-biggest supplier, “shipping 51 million tons, or 1.02 million barrels per day, little changed from a year earlier.”

Meanwhile, remarks by Minister Al-Falih in Davos, Switzerland indicate that the Kingdom is still not worried about a rebound in Shale production with prices around $50 on international markets.

At the World Economic Forum, Al-Falih said that he “expects costs for the U.S. drillers to go up in the long term,” after “the supply industry has been decimated,” OilPrice.com reports, adding that the Minister said the balancing of the market in 2017 will also include inflation on the cost of doing business.

Al-Falih told CNN Money that he doesn’t “lose sleep that shale is going to come and overwhelm us. I don’t think it will.”

Saudi Arabia’s position is stronger this year as Saudi oil usage has dropped, and as natural gas replaces around a third of what the Kingdom uses for power generation, Julian Lee in Bloomberg reports.