Trump: ‘We do not need Middle East oil’

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The United States no longer needs oil from the Middle East, President Trump said this morning during White House remarks concerning the ongoing brinkmanship with Iran.

The statement followed Iran’s missile attack last night on a shared U.S.-Iraq base. The event briefly spooked oil markets, although they returned to the baseline this morning.

Trump concluded that Iran “appears to be standing down” following the missile launch last night.

The president also said that “the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” which will “remain until Iran changes its behavior.”

Trump cited the strength of U.S. oil and natural gas production as a central portion of his strategy for the Middle East due to it opening other avenues that previous administrations could not touch due to fears they could upset world oil markets.

“These accomplishments that nobody thought was possible, and options in Middle East became available,” Trump said.

“We are now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world,” he added. “We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.”

According to an analysis put out by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in August 2019, the U.S. became the world’s top producer of crude oil in 2018, overtaking Saudi Arabia.

Following Trump’s remarks, oil prices dropped nearly 4%, a dip that returned the price to the level it was at before the United States’ strike on Iran military leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.

Others have concluded similar takeaways about the increased role of the United States in settling oil markets after high-profile geopolitical incidents.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters yesterday that she attributed such limited effects on the markets to the U.S. policies put in place over the past decade.

“I don’t think we have seen the impact to prices that you might have seen, for instance, back in 2008,” Murkowski said. “We have different policies in place now. We are producing at levels that most thought the United States wasn’t capable of.”

That also includes the 2015 effort to lift the decades-old crude oil export ban, sponsored by Murkowski and House Republicans, she said.

“It’s good to know that we are at a place globally, internationally where what the United States is contributing can be viewed as having a softening impact on oil prices when you have an incident that would otherwise that would have had turmoil in the market,” Murkowski said.