U.S. President Donald J. Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said the U.S. no longer needs oil from the Middle East, but in fact U.S. refineries still use oil produced in the region. U.S. crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf fell last year to their lowest level in 30 years as shale oil production boomed. Still, Middle Eastern crude accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. imports.
Before the so-called “shale oil revolution” in the United States, refineries along the Gulf Coast invested millions of dollars to process relatively cheap heavy oil from the Middle East and Latin America. At the same time, shale oil is a lighter, lower-sulphur oil than crude oil from the Persian Gulf, which is not ideal for most U.S. refineries.
Heavy oil supplies have been restricted since U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan oil, falling production in Mexico and a logistics bottleneck in Canada’s crude oil delivery. U.S. heavy oil buyers still rely on other Persian Gulf oil producers because of sanctions imposed on Iran.