Dependence on imported crude oil from the Middle East by the United States is increasing this year. Does it deepen a threat on the US energy security in case of crisis in Hormuz strait?
Dependence on imported crude oil in the US had increased consecutively between 1980's and mid-2000's due to growth of demand and shrink domestic production.
Dependence on import, however, was capped in the latter half of 2000's in line with the faded regional petroleum demand. Then, recovering of domestic crude oil production reduces imports in 2010's.
Crude oil processing in the US was peaked out in 2007 and had decreased until early this year. Although the US petroleum demand is rebounding this year, additional supply of crude oil mainly comes from domestic oil fields.
While total crude oil imports stay unchanged, shipments from the Middle East showed steady increase. US dependence rate on crude oil from the Middle East rose to above 25% from the below 20% level.
It seems to be caused by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member producers who have increased their production aggressively to make up for losing supply from Iran following the international sanctions against the nation that suspected nuclear development.
Actually, the increase of the US crude oil imports from the Middle East has been in step with OPEC's production.
Recent peak of Middle Eastern crude oil imports by the US was in early June, according to the Energy Information Administration. It matches with the fact that crude oil production by OPEC member nations had peaked out in April-May.
Decline of the Middle Eastern crude oil imports seems strange assuming that the US bought them for its definite necessity, because the US petroleum demand continues to increase even after June.
Therefore, the sudden increase of Middle East crude oil imports into the US since last year might suggest that the US absorbs excess supply from that region due to sluggish global demand.
On the other hand, crude oil stocks in the US Midwest area continued to increase even after the Seaway pipeline started reversal operations in May. Crude oil inventories in the area eventually stopped increasing after the peak out of imports from the Middle East. This also gives us an impression that the US does not need the additional Middle Eastern crude oil seriously.
If the increasing dependence on Middle Eastern crude oil by the US has such characteristics, the crisis at the Hormuz strait might not affect severely on the US energy security.