Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is moving to supply independent refiners and new players in China, according to a March 14 report from Reuters.
"The private players are more open and entrepreneurial. They also need the oil and the experience," an unnamed source said.
Reuters also noted increased competition from Russian and U.S. supplies prompting the change in business strategy for Saudi Aramco.
The move, which helped hike Saudi Arabia oil exports to China to 1.5 million barrels per day in the first quarter, is a change from its deals with major state-controlled Chinese energy companies such as PetroChina Co. Ltd. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec.
In 2018, Russian exports to China reached 1.43 million bbl/d as it retained the top spot for oil exporter to the country for three years, while Saudi Arabia exported 1.135 million bbl/d.