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Saudi crude oil exports to China to fall for 3rd straight month in July

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Saudi crude oil exports to China will fall in July for a 3rd straight month to about 36 MMbbl amid plant maintenance and as some refiners opted for other sources of cheaper oil, several trade sources said on Tuesday.

The reduction underscores the challenge the world's top oil exporter faces in maintaining market share in the world's largest crude import market.

July exports are expected to be down from about 39 MMbbl in June, possibly the lowest levels for the year, the sources said.

One state refiner and a private refiner cut nominations for Saudi crude in July vs. June, they added.

Chinese refiners are cutting imports from Saudi Arabia, China's No. 2 oil supplier, due to high term prices for Saudi crude and weak refining margins, sources said. This was despite Saudi Aramco cutting official selling prices for its crude exports in Asia in July for the first time in five months.

Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner and Saudi Arabia's biggest customer in China, is changing the volume little in July from the previous month but the volume is the lowest this year, the sources said.

China's Saudi oil imports fell 16.5% in the first four months this year to 26.13 metric MMt (1.58 MMbpd) while imports from top supplier Russia gained 16.6% to 37.79 metric MMt, customs data showed last month.

Separately, Saudi Aramco will supply full contractual volumes to at least three other North Asian refiners in July, the sources said.

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Clarence Fernandez and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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