Aside from improvements in global economic activity and industrial production, China could recover from a hangover in 2013. While domestic activity slowed throughout 2011 and 2012, the country continued to import oil for strategic stockpiling initiatives. As a result, oil imports didn’t grow as much we hoped in 2012 (see below).
For the last few years, China’s oil imports from OPEC nations have hovered just above 3.0 million barrels a day. In November 2013, China imported 2.9 million barrels of oil a day. Note that import data often lags movements in shipping rates because shipping rates rise and fall on changes in export volume and demand for tankers. Plus, figures on China’s oil imports lag by roughly a month. In 2013, China’s oil import grew at 4.08%, trailing the prior three years’ average of roughly 10%,