A number of companies specialized in oil affairs expected that China’s oil imports would stabilize or grow by about 2%, as a maximum, this year, amid China’s policy to set import quotas for independent refineries.
These expectations come in light of China’s tendency to tighten its grip on the abuse of import quotas, which would plunge the growth of oil imports for the second largest economy in the world to the lowest level in two decades this year, despite the expected rise in refining rates in the second half of the year.
Oil imports are expected to grow by 2%, maximum in 2021, to exceed eleven million barrels per day, according to Energy Aspects, Rystad Energy and Independent Commodity Intelligence, compared to an average annual growth rate of China’s oil imports of about 9.7% since 2015 according to Chinese customs data.
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China has been the global driver of oil demand over the past decade, accounting for 44 percent of global growth in oil imports since 2015, when Beijing began issuing import quotas to independent refineries as part of a drive to boost the refining industry and cut emissions.
Refineries are expected to hold any remaining import quotas for the fourth quarter when fuel demand peaks.
China pulled millions of barrels of oil from its strategic reserves this month, in an unprecedented move to try to quell inflation caused by the rising costs of everything from food to fuel.