KARACHI: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday categorically made it clear that his country doesn’t need any oil from the Middle East since it has become 100 per cent self-sufficient in meeting energy needs.

He made these remarks while addressing the nation at the White House in the wake of Iranian retaliation on US bases in Iraq. Stressing America’s energy independence, Trump said he doesn’t “need Middle East oil”.

The threat of an all-out war with Tehran following the assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani has brought oil supplies from the Middle East in the spotlight. But any attacks by Iran on region’s oil infrastructure are unlikely to harm the US as its dependence on Persian gulf for oil and petroleum supplies has decreased significantly over the last few decades.

In 2018, the US turned into a net oil exporter after almost 75 years of dependence on foreign crude and petroleum supplies. The shift came following a fracking boom in the in the 2010s that reduced imports from the Middle East.

Moreover, the end of bans on crude exports and investments in refining capacities and abilities has enabled the country to sell abroad reprocessed crude as fuel and other petroleum products.

US Energy Information Administration’s statistics show that its imports of crude oil and petroleum products have fallen from five million barrels per day in 2005 to 3.62mbpd in 2019.

Meanwhile, the country’s crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf states — Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — shrank to to 671,000 barrels a day in October 2019, down from 1.5mbpd a decade ago.

After halting all crude imports from Iran in 1991, the US over the last two decades has also gradually reduced its dependence on Saudi Arabia. The share of the Kingdom’s oil exports to the US decreased from 16pc in 1998 to 11pc in 2018.

In 2014, Canada surpassed Saudi Arabia as the leading exporter to the US accounting for nearly 48pc for America’s all crude oil imports.

However, the possibility of conflict raises risks for the global oil production, hiking crude prices and causing shortages for countries dependent on imports from the Middle East.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020