The United States was more reliant on Middle East oil imports in 2012 than in previous years, U.S. Energy Department figures indicate, emphasizing how important the volatile region remains for Washington.
The Financial Times observed that the growth of oil imports from the Gulf, where the United States and its allies are confronting Iran, indicates “the United States will continue to play a critical security role in the region,” reported UPI.
In November 2012, the International Energy Agency, the West’s energy watchdog, announced that, with the unlocking of vast oil and shale natural gas reserves, the United States was headed for virtual energy self-sufficiency and would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by 2020.
The geostrategic implications of that are immense. The United States would no longer be dependent on Gulf countries and might no longer consider it necessary to spend billions of dollars protecting the region and its sea lanes from Iran by constantly deploying large forces there.
The Financial Times observed that while U.S. domestic production has risen sharply over the last year and could transform the country into a net exporter by around 2030, it remains reliant on gulf oil supplies.
U.S. Energy Department statistics indicate that by the end of November, U.S. crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia stood at 450 million barrels — more than it imported from the kingdom in the whole of 2009, 2010 and 2011.
“For the first time since 2003, Saudi imports accounted for more than 15 percent of total U.S. oil imports,” the Financial Times observed.
“The gulf as a whole accounted for more than 25 percent, a nine-year high.”