*The US leapt from nowhere to become China’s ninth largest crude supplier with 363,000 b/d for the first half of 2018 (ahead of Venezuela with 346,000 b/d).

*But volumes, as measured by the US export stats, fell to zero from August amid escalating tit-for-tat trade tariffs (see chart 1). China in September imposed a 10% tariff on US LNG and threatened similar measures against crude and other oil shipments. China had threatened to increase the LNG tariff to 25% from 1 January in...