For any who are still curious about oil remaining stubbornly expensive in the midst of so much economic weakness, here’s a small clue from the demand side: increasingly, traffic jams in and around Beijing stretch for tens of kilometres, run for days at a time, and the number of vehicles on the move at any time is in the millions and rising.

The locals have cashed in on their captive market of stranded drivers and are selling water, instant noodles, and cigarettes at inflated prices. A bottle of water, which normally costs 1 yuan, is sold for 10 yuan (about Rs 70) in the highway.

Granted, these extreme traffic jams are exacerbated by needed road repairs, but even allowing for those it is clear that China’s road network has not kept up with its rapidly spreading car culture. China has become the world’s largest car market, with year on year growth rates in high double digits. Sales rebounded in August as subsidies for energy-efficient vehicles and a stronger currency spurred demand. Sales rose 55.7 percent over a year earlier to 1.21 million vehicles, up from 1 million vehicles the month before.

Latest figures on Chinese oil consumption, reported by Rigzone, indicate a 10% year on year increase, tempered by the fact that this is the second month in a row of decline from June’s all time high. This correlates well with crude oil prices in international markets – and with the colossal traffic jams.