China’s 13th Five-Year Plan: Implications for Oil Markets

China’s 13th Five Year Plan (13FYP) outlines the country’s economic transformation for the coming five years and beyond. As the main blueprint for China’s ‘rebalancing’, it will impact economic growth and energy demand patterns. China’s economic growth is slowing, and the economy is now clearly shifting from an export oriented growth path to a more consumer-driven development model. The 13FYP, by laying particular emphasis on innovation, urbanisation and environmental protection, will accelerate the shift in end product demand from middle distillates to light ends. Efforts to curb industrial overcapacity will further weigh on diesel demand, even though plans for regional interconnectivity will prevent it from falling sharply, while the push to develop alternative energy vehicles will slow gasoline demand growth rates. Finally, the government’s efforts to open the domestic oil industry to private participants is testament to a change in its thinking about oil supply security, and of a greater willingness to allow Chinese companies to become active participants in global oil supply chains and price-making mechanisms. Reforms of the Chinese national oil companies (NOCs) are unlikely to lead to massive privatisations, but will force them to be more financially disciplined. Over the next couple of years, this will lead to cuts in upstream Capex and more cautious outbound investments.

By: Michal Meidan

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