Russia topped Saudi Arabia in sales of crude oil to China for the second time this year, Reuters reported Wednesday. But Saudi Arabia will still finish the year with more sales to China than Russia overall, as the two producers continue to compete for dominance in the emerging market.

China, with the largest economy in Asia and the second-largest in the world, is also the world's largest importer of crude oil, surpassing the United States in May. China bought a record 4.04 million metric tons, or approximately 988,000 barrels daily, from Russia in September, Bloomberg reported, up 42 percent from Russia's sales to China in September 2014. 

China has purchased record amounts of crude oil throughout the past year, as the price per barrel was kept low because of overproduction. Despite calls from some members hurt by low prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has refused to lower the oil ceiling in order to increase the price, saying demand will bounce back.

The last time Russia beat Saudi Arabia in oil exports to China was in May, and a direct pipeline from Russia to China has contributed to the bump in sales, as transport was streamlined.

Saudi Arabia is one of the founding member states of OPEC, and it has competed with non-OPEC countries such as Russia for access to the world's emerging markets. “The biggest battle to supply oil to China is between Russia and Saudi,” Gao Jian, an analyst at Chinese energy consultant SCI International, told Bloomberg Wednesday. “Russia is gaining momentum with its pipeline and buying interest for its crude from teapot refineries.”