OPEC Shrugs Trump’s Threat of America Cutting Oil Imports

LONDON (Bloomberg News/TNS) -

OPEC’s two biggest suppliers to the U.S. shrugged off a vow by President Donald Trump to end dependence on the group’s oil, saying the world’s biggest economy would continue to need crude from abroad.

The U.S. is “closely integrated in the global energy market,” Saudi Arabia’s Energy and Industry Minister Khalid Al-Falih said, while his Venezuelan counterpart Nelson Martinez said he expects his country’s crude exports to the world’s top consumer to remain stable.

“The positions that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia take in global energy are very important for global economic stability,” Al-Falih said at a meeting of producing countries in Vienna. He added that Saudi Arabia was looking forward to working with the Trump administration.

Just after his inauguration on Friday, Trump said he was “committed to achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests,” by exploiting “vast untapped domestic energy reserves,” according to a plan posted on the White House website. The U.S. imported about 3 million barrels a day from the organization last year, with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela accounting for 1.81 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

This isn’t the first time a U.S. president has promised to end the country’s reliance on supplies from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Former President George W. Bush promised to cut imports from the Middle East when he said in 2006 the nation was “addicted to oil.” Shipments from OPEC rose 10 percent during Bush’s time in office. Every U.S. president going back to Richard Nixon has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil.