Chinese imports of crude oil grew at their slowest rate for almost 10 years in 2013, as demand was hit by a slowing economy. Beijing is struggling to maintain strong growth while it rebalances its economy, in an effort to move away from a largely investment-led growth model, to one driven by domestic consumption. Demand for crude oil could rebound somewhat this year as two new refineries totaling 440,000 b/d come online, but analysts warn any increase will more than likely be tempered by the lack of momentum in the Chinese economy.

Were this to play out, it could spell trouble for OPEC’s 12 member countries, which together have accounted for more than half of China’s total crude imports every year since 2006. (CONTINUED - 898 WORDS)