No Saudi Crude for First Time in 35 Years in US imports

Eliminating the reliance on Middle East oil has been the dream of every U.S. Administration since the presidency of Jimmy Carter in 1977. Just 12 years ago, when Joe Biden became U.S. Vice-President, American refiners were routinely importing about 1 million barrels a day of crude from Saudi Arabia, the second-largest supplier to the U.S after Canada and seen as a major security risk.

The lack of deliveries follows a slump in crude shipments to the U.S. that left the desert kingdom in recent months. Since tankers from Saudi Arabia take about six weeks to reach import terminals on either the west or Gulf coasts, the drop is only starting to show up now. This is the first week America had no deliveries based on available weekly data through June 2010 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A longer history of monthly figures shows this is the first time there were no Saudi imports since September 1985.

For Saudi Arabia, cutting shipments to the U.S. is the quickest way to signal to the wider market that it’s tightening supply. The government is alone in publishing weekly data on crude stockpiles and imports, which carry enormous influence among oil traders. Other big petroleum consuming nations, like China, publish less timely information about oil supplies.

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