OPEC's effort to balance an oversupplied oil market could have the unintended consequence of crimping crude demand from China, said Matt Smith, head of commodities research at shipment-tracking firm ClipperData.
Falling demand from China, the world's second largest oil consumer, would hurt OPEC's current strategy. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with nonmembers, is cutting production in a bid to reduce huge stockpiles of oil that have built up during more than two years of weak oil prices.
But cutting production has boosted prices, and that could result in less strategic buying from China, according to Smith.
"Emerging market demand, and specifically from China, has been really strong in 2016," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.
"However, they've been on these sort of bouts of bargain hunting and opportunistic purchases to essentially fill their stockpiles, their strategic reserves. And so, as prices rise, and as they've risen recently, we're likely to see less of that bargain hunting next year," he said.