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China Surpasses Canada as Top Buyer of U.S. Crude

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China became the biggest buyer of U.S. crude oil in February, surpassing Canada, at a time when OPEC is cutting back output.

China imported 8.08 million barrels of U.S. light crude, nearly quadrupling its January purchases, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday. That helped boost U.S. exports to a record 31.2 million barrels during the month. Canada, the U.S.’s largest trade partner, imported 6.84 million, down 20 percent from a month earlier.

The surge in U.S. shipments to Asia, a market long dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Middle East producers, comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries trims output in an effort to end a glut that battered the economies of global energy exporters. Saudi Arabia reduced its pricing for some of its April crude sales to Asia as supplies from the U.S. became more competitive.

“The U.S. is a larger exporter of crude than many OPEC countries,” John Auers, executive vice president at energy consultant Turner Mason & Co. in Dallas, said by phone. “That China is buying more means that the U.S. has become a larger player in the global crude export market.”

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Written by Catherine Traywick and Sheela Tobben

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