Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world's biggest crude oil exporters, amid falling oil prices, compete for market share in China - the world's second-largest crude oil importer, SIA reports.
Oil prices have fallen around 60 percent in the last seven months, reaching their lowest level in almost six years, and recording the fastest slump since 2008.
Despite China's annual gross domestic product growth rate for 2014 being the lowest since 1990 with 7.4 percent, the country with the second-biggest economy in the world increased its oil imports in 2014, taking full advantage of low oil prices.
China’s crude oil imports averaged 6.2 million barrels a day in 2014, a 9.5 percent increase compared to the previous year, while oil imports rose to 7.2 million barrels in Dec. 2014, according to the country's General Administration of Customs' data.
"Across 2014, China imported an average 530,000 million barrels more per day of crude oil than in 2013," Richard Mallinson, a geopolitical analyst at London-based energy market consultancy Energy Aspects, told The Anadolu Agency.
"But Saudi exports to China were lower year-on-year by 85,000 barrels per day because China had more purchasing power as other sellers offered larger discounts to gain market share," he added.
China’s crude imports from Russia increased by 36 percent, while its imports from Saudi Arabia decreased by 8 percent in 2014, reaching its lowest level since 2010, customs data indicate.
In response, Saudi Arabia once again cut its official sales price of crude oil to Asia on Feb. 5, while the kingdom has lowered the price to Asian countries numerous times in the past few months.
"The Saudis do not want their major customers in Asia being driven into a recession by high oil prices," said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston.
"That would lead to lower demand and drive prices down further," he added.
Saudi Arabia, Angola and Russia were the biggest sellers of crude oil to China in 2014 respectively, according to a monthly report of global oil market data from Energy Aspects.
While Russia exported 664,000 barrels of crude oil on average to China in 2014, Angola sold 815,000 barrels, and Saudi Arabia exported 996,000 barrels, the report named Fundamentals Jan. 2015 revealed.
Russia's crude oil exports are expected to increase in the future, while the country's state-owned oil company Rosneft and the Chinese government agreed to a $270 billion deal on Jun. 21, 20