Beijing's subduing on the misuse of import quotas merged with the impact of higher crude prices could see China's growth in oil imports plunged to the lowest in two decades in 2021, despite with an expected increase in refining rates in the second half.
Consultancies Energy Aspects, Rystad Energy and Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS) found that shipments into the world's top crude importer and No. 2 refiner could be stable, or increase by up to 2 per cent to just over 11 million barrels per day (bpd) this year.
China customs data showed that this compares to an average import growth rate of 9.7 per cent since 2015 and which will be the slowest since 2001.
The flat forecasts corresponding with plans by OPEC+ to raise oil output by 400,000 barrels per day between August and December.
News of the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers sparked a bargain in benchmark prices this week.
China has been the global oil demand refiner over the last ten years and had accounted for 44 per cent of global growth in oil imports since 2015 when Beijing began issuing import quotas to independent oil refiners.
China is investigating the trading of crude oil import quotas which resulted a lower import allocations to independent refiners that have already cooled demand from the group that provides a fifth of China's imports.
An analyst based at Beijing who said that "This could mean an end to the rapid growth in China's crude imports which we've seen in the past."
China's crude oil imports fell down to the lowest since 2013 after Beijing fastened down on import quota trading as part of a drive to integrate its refining industry and reduce emissions.