This month could see changes at the top in both the world’s first and second biggest economies, as the 6 November US Presidential election is followed later in the month by China’s ruling Communist Party once-in-decade selection of a new Secretary-General. But on both sides of the Pacific, it is the evolution of fundamental energy macro-trends that is more likely to transform relations with OPEC than any policy tweak resulting from a leadership change.

Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, hotly tipped to take over from Hu Jintao as party Secretary-General this month and then in March replace him as President, is no stranger to energy policy. One of the architects of Beijing’s expansionist energy investment drive, Mr Xi has overseen a critical period of China’s emergence as a world power – a transformation which has been largely fuelled by Middle Eastern oil. In just the five years since Mr Xi has held high office, Chinese oil demand, according to OPEC, surged from 7.6mn b/d in 2007 to 9.7mn b/d this year. (CONTINUED - 925 WORDS)