Although American energy reserves have been rising steadily over the past few years and appear likely to continue to do so, American imports from Saudi Arabia have increased by 20 percent over the past year.In January, under pressure from the environmental lobby, the Obama administration blocked a permit for the planned Keystone oil pipeline (after the ensuing kerfuffle it ordered a “fast track” of a southern segment). Did the delay contribute to greater dependence on Saudi oil? A New York Times report points to the sanctions against Iran as the immediate cause, but implicates domestic conditions as well:
Many oil experts say that the increasing dependency is probably going to last only a couple of years, or until more Canadian and Gulf of Mexico production comes on line. . . .In the United States, several oil refining companies have found it necessary to buy more crude from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to make up for declining production from Mexico and Venezuela, insufficient pipeline connections between the United States and Canadian oil sands fields, and the fallout from the 2010 BP disaster, which led to a yearlong drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the long term, we probably don’t need to worry so much about energy dependency on faraway princes and kings: Via Meadia has been following the discoveries of late concerning America’s own independent oil reserves. With some luck, future debates on energy will rage about what to do with all of our own potential.In the short term, however, Obama’s keystone politics seems like a blunder that will prolong America’s dependence on Saudi Arabian oil for a few years longer.