The Middle East will continue to play a “pivotal role” in supplying global markets with oil, much needed for sustainable economic growth, even if the United States becomes self-sufficient in oil and gas production, as projected within a few years, U.S. think-tank the Atlantic Council said in a report.
“U.S. energy production has been more than offset by the decline in non-OPEC production,” making Arab oil still vital for the global economy, Odeh Aburdene, president of OAI Advisors - an advisory firm providing consultancy on Middle East business, energy and private equity - said in the report.
“It is expected that world energy consumption in the next twenty years will increase by 30 percent. Thus, it is premature to herald the demise of Arab oil,” Aburdene added.
“The significance of Middle East oil does not arise from U.S. oil imports from the region, but from its production capacity to supply some of the major world economies with oil at reasonable prices.”
Geopolitical problems, such as the Iranian nuclear program, the Arab-Israeli conflict and political transition, will continue to make the United States “deeply engaged in the region for a long time,” he said.
However, “energy independence could make the United States redefine its military presence and commitment to the Gulf region,” given “the huge budget deficit, looming defense reductions, and the newly discovered shale gas production,” said Aburdene.
The United States would benefit from the exploitation of shale gas and shale oil by fracking – a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth – to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017, the International Energy Agency said in a recent report.
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