United States and Saudi Arabia’s Oil Connection Got Weakened


Saudi Arabia (S.A) as the biggest world producer and exporter of crude oil, had the important position in supplying United States’ demand during last decades, especially from the end of 1970s when it was ranked as the main oil supplier of U.S’ fast growing economy.

Saudi Arabia supplied 20.6% of total U.S imported oil during 1976 to 1979while the U.S economy enjoyed its fast growth (by the rate of 4.7% in average). The S.A’s share in the U.S imported oil was raised later to 25.3% in 1981 and about 30% in 1991.

While the Saudi Arabia supplied about 18.13% of the total U.S imported oil during 1973 to 1999, it didn’t seem that any another supplier could threaten its key place. In that period of time, the Nigeria’s share as the second main U.S oil supplier was about 11.84%, Canada’s share was about 11.65%, Mexico supplied about the 10.9% of U.S total imported oil, Venezuela’s oil exported rate to the total U.S imported oil was less than 10.4% and Iraq’s share was just closed to 2%.


Whereas the amount of Saudi Arabia’s exported crude oil to the U.S was raised continuously and it was doubled during 2 continues decades (1980s and 1990s), its share in supplying U.S imported oil was trended differently.

Of course, the amount of S.A’s exported crude oil to the U.S has experienced some fluctuations because of the economical or political issues but analyzing the trend of its share in the U.S total imported oil demonstrates turns in the U.S’ policies in importing crude oil from 1993. While the direction of the S.A’s share in the U.S oil imported and U.S total imported oil was mostly the same until 1992 (Graph.1), this alignment was changed from 1993 (Graph.2), noticeably.

Despite the Saudi Arabia’s ability to follow the changes in U.S importing oil and regulate its share in U.S market until 1992 (Graph.1), it lost this critical adjustment from 1993 and the trend of its share in the U.S total oil imported was not varied in the same slope and direction to the U.S’s imported oil (Graph.2).


Regarding to this analysis, the turns in the U.S’ importing oil policy which changed the strategic oil supplier was kicked off from 1993. By this strategic change, the Saudi Arabia was replaced by Canada in a transitional phase. The amount of the Saudi Arabia’s exported oil to the U.S was decreased from 1,283,000 bpd in 1993 to 945,800 bpd in 2017, as well as it’s share in the U.S imported oil was dropped from 18.92% in 1993 to 11.96% in 2017. Concurrently, the Canada’s oil exported amount was increased sharply from 899,000 in 1993 to more than 3,420,000 in 2017 which raised its share in the U.S oil imported from 13.25% in 1993 to 43.24% in 2017 (Graph.3).


Despite to decreases in the amount of U.S imported crude oil from Saudi Arabia, U.S has increased its total imported crude oil by more than 1,200,000 bpd during 1993 to 2017 which was supplied mainly by the Canada and in second position by the Iraq (Graph.3).

It is noteworthy that the independent of the U.S to the Saudi Arabia’s crude oil is not because of increasing in its internal production which was hiked to 9,320,000 bpd in 2017, but it was made through a strategic plan which could affect on international oil markets in the future, maybe before 2025.

Shahriar Sheikhlar
Shahriar Sheikhlar
Shahriar Sheikhlar is an independent energy security and strategic development analyst, in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Mr. Sheikhlar, holds postgraduate in Management, Strategy. He is giving advices and services to some local and international think tanks and news agencies.


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