Asia imported record volumes of Opec crude last year as the Gulf states pushed increased volumes of competitively-priced crude towards key clients. Cumulative volumes to the four biggest buyers – China, India, South Korea and Japan – grew 4.9%. But worryingly for the grouping, it lost further market share in Asia’s largest buyer, China, as Russian imports surged (see chart 1). Indications are that a concerted effort is being made to rectify this in 2017.

Asia’s big...