China's crude oil imports from top oil exporter Saudi Arabia rose to 4.81 million tonnes in November, the highest monthly imports since December 2009, customs data showed on Wednesday.
November imports were 32.3 per cent higher than a year earlier and 5.7 per cent higher than the 4.55 million tonnes in October, the data showed.
China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, has imported an average 4.14 million tonnes of crude oil a month from Saudi Arabia so far this year, they showed.
Saudi Arabia has boosted output to more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in November to feed increased demand from consuming countries, top Saudi oil officials have said.
That is an increase of 600,000 bpd from October, and as most Saudi oil exports go to Asia, most of the additional supply should flow east.
The increased output from Saudi Arabia would help meet higher demand from China which increased refinery runs while its domestic production fell on offshore oil spills.
"China's crude oil imports picked up sharply on the month as we expected, in line with higher demand from refiners that were ramping up after a very heavy turnaround period," said Soozhana Choi, head of commodities research in Asia for Deutsche Bank.
China's refinery throughput surged to a record high of 9.22 million barrels per day (bpd) in November, after a small decline in October, as state oil firms revved up operations to ease domestic diesel shortages.
"We're likely to see sustained crude oil imports in December and into the early part of next year driven by higher refinery runs and potentially driven by some level of additions to operational and strategic inventories," Choi said.