China spent a record-breaking $8.3 billion on Russian energy in just 1 month as Europe shuns the supplies

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putin Xi Jinping
China has ramped up its purchases of discounted Russian fuel since war broke out in Ukraine in February.Aly Song/Reuters
  • China spent a record $8.3 billion on Russian energy imports in August, customs data showed.

  • Its buyers are snapping up cheap Russian oil, gas, and coal as European imports fall away.

  • China has spent $44 billion on Russian fuel since war broke out in Ukraine in February.

China spent a record-breaking $8.3 billion importing Russian oil products, gas, and coal in August, official customs data showed.

Chinese buyers have now purchased a record-breaking $44 billion of Russian energy in the six months since President Vladimir Putin's forces invaded Ukraine in February. August's fuel spend rose 68% when compared with a year prior, according to the customs data.

Russia has turned to China as an energy export partner as Western allies shun Putin's regime over the Ukraine war.

The European Union has made efforts to wean itself off of Russian energy since February, with its members agreeing to a partial oil embargo in May that will come into effect in December. The US has vowed to phase out Russian oil imports and is urging countries to back its proposal for a price cap on Russian oil.

Russia has slashed its exports to Europe in retaliation, with state-run energy giant Gazprom shuttering the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline to Germany last month. Its members have scrambled to find alternatives, hitting their winter gas storage targets two months early in August.

China has taken advantage of that disruption by loading up on Russian fuel, which is often available at a significant discount. Russian Urals oil is currently priced at just under $72 a barrel, while barrels of Brent crude and WTI crude both trade at over $80.

Energy prices soared after Russian invaded Ukraine, and that will have inflated China's spending figures. But the country has also imported higher volumes of Russian crude oil, natural gas, and coal since the war began, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

Russia sent 8.3 million tons of oil to China in August, up over 15% from July and 22% from the same month a year ago.

Meanwhile, China imported a record-breaking 8.5 million tons of coal, surging 57% from a year ago.

Russian exporters shipped 617,000 tons of liquefied natural gas to China, Bloomberg reported. However, those volumes exclude gas that travels via pipeline, which is the main route for transporting the fuel from Russia to China.

Read more: Check out these photos of the massive floating gas terminals that could help to solve Europe's energy crisis

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