President Donald Trump has confirmed that the United States has become a major crude oil producer no longer needs oil from the Middle East amid a wave of tweets on Monday morning about the weekend attacks on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
US government data point to a different story: the US surge in technology-driven drilling, which began more than a decade ago, has made the United States a big producer, but imports of crude oil and petroleum products from the Gulf region last year are still flowing abundantly.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, sends about seven million barrels of crude oil a day around the world. The United States produces about 12 million barrels a day but consumes 20 million barrels a day, which means it must import the rest.
Much of the US deficit is being filled by Canada, but some still come from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Gulf states because most US refineries prefer their oil. Other refineries, especially those in California, are isolated from large US oil fields and must also rely on imports.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the disproportion between what US refineries need and what the United States produces means that in 2018 the United States imported an average of 48 million barrels per month of crude oil and petroleum products from the Gulf region.
On Saturday, several drone attack hit Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery and triggered fires. A spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Interior told the state owned news agency SPA that drone strikes on two complexes of the state oil company Saudi Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais provinces have broken fire. The fires are now under control.
The operation were known by the Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen. Drone attack was a legitimate response to the ongoing military campaign in Saudi Arabia from Yemen, said a military spokesman for the Houthis.