Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest producer of crude (Source: Getty)
Saudi Arabia continues to be a major force in Asia's oil market, new figures from the US Energy information Administration (EIA) show - despite plummeting prices.
In the first half of 2015, the kingdom's market share of crude oil imports into other countries on the continent remained practically the same as last year.
In the case of China, its biggest recipient of oil, Saudi Arabia accounted for 16 per cent of total imports during the six months to June – exactly the same as in 2014.
Saudi's market share in India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand also remained the same or one per cent lower, while in Taiwan there was a very slight increase from 32 per cent to 33 per cent.
Singapore was the only major trading partner where Saudi Arabia's share fell by a noticeable amount – from 26 per cent last year to 18 per cent this year.
Asia is Saudi's most important market for the commodity, with more than half of its oil ending up there. As an average across all Asian countries, 23.2 per cent of oil was imported from Saudi Arabia in the first half of the year.
The EIA did note that Saudi Arabia's prominence might not last, however, as it is increasingly turning away from crude:
Saudi Arabia increased production and kept its export levels high, enabling it to maintain its market share in these countries. However, long-term trends within Saudi Arabia's energy sector may reduce its global crude oil market share.
The country is currently heavily investing in its refining sector so that it can become less reliant on crude for power generation domestically, and this is likely to result in a shift towards exporting petroleum products.
Saudi Arabia continues to increase its refinery input, the amount of crude oil available for export may decline, reducing its crude oil market share not only in Asia but in other regions as well.