Saudi Arabia surged past Russia to become China’s top crude supplier in February, the first time in two years this has been the case. China took 1.552mn b/d from Saudi Arabia in February, the third highest figure on record. All three of these figures have come in the past four months – including December’s record 1.641mn b/d (see chart).

On an annual basis Russia has been ahead of Saudi Arabia for each of the past three years (MEES, 25 January). But for 2019 Saudi Arabia...