U.S. seen dependent on Saudi oil

Friday, March 12, 2004

ABU DHABI Despite efforts to diversify, the United States is expected to increase its dependence on crude oil from Saudi Arabia.

European and Arab oil experts said the Bush administration will be unable to replace Saudi Arabia as an oil supplier amid rising demand in the United States. The experts said the administration has no plans to reduce Saudi oil supplies over the next few years.

In 2003, the kingdom supplied the United States with a daily average of about 1.36 million barrels per day, or 15 percent of total U.S. oil imports.

The experts said Iraq would require years of development to become a major oil supplier to the United States.

"The United States does not have too many options in this field," Louis Hubeika, a former World Bank analyst, said. "Saudi Arabia has been its main oil supplier and will remain so in the long term despite the recent strain in their relations."

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