Last updated: 9 March, 2014

US committed to Gulf security despite own energy wealth

The United States is committed to preserving security in the oil-rich Gulf region despite its growing energy independence, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said on Sunday.

“The United States and the UAE share a commitment to preserve security and stability throughout the Gulf,” Pritzker told a business forum in Abu Dhabi.

“That commitment will not change even as the United States becomes more energy independent,” she said.

Washington was interested in “making sure that oil markets throughout the world remain stable and well supplied,” she added.

Pritzker is leading a trade mission on a Gulf tour that will also take her to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In October last year, oil production in the United States surpassed crude imports for the first time in nearly two decades, helped mainly by production from newly tapped shale-based reserves.

Domestic output hit 7.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) in October, a 24-year high, the Energy Information Agency said in November.

Oil imports, long seen as a strategic and economic vulnerability for the US, sank well below that figure to a 17-year low, it said.

The onset of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has allowed drillers to unlock reserves in hard-to-exploit shale strata and brought on a rise in the production of oil and natural gas.

The shift has taken US reliance on imported oil to less than 40 percent of domestic consumption, compared with more than 60 percent at the peak of import dependence in 2005.

The EIA forecasts imports will make up only 28 percent of consumption in 2014, the lowest level since 1985.

Despite long-running projects aimed at diversification, Gulf Arab states remain heavily dependent on oil and natural gas, which make up about 90 percent of total public revenues.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council states, four of which are members of OPEC, together pump about 17.5 million barrels of oil per day, a fifth of global production and around 55 percent of OPEC’s output.