China imported 12 percent less crude oil in December than in November, when crude imports had hit a record high, sparking immediate concern about demand from one of the world’s top consumers. While some say the slump is due to Beijing’s aggressive stance on fighting pollution, others say it is merely a seasonal decline. The record-high November oil shipments to China were stockpiled, and used by refiners during the last month of the year, suggesting that the latter explanation is likely, and that China’s stockpiles are quite hefty. Despite the December lull, for full-2017, crude oil import figures reveal a 10.1-percent increase from 2016, at 8.43 million barrels daily. What’s more, the first batch of oil import quotas issued by the government last month also gave market players cause for optimism: at 121.32 million tons , these are high enough to suggest a rebound in oil imports this year […]