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West Vulnerable to Oil Cutbacks from Mideast, ADL Report Warns

Unlike Western nations, the oil-producing countries appear to have learned from recent oil-price fluctuations, according to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, meaning the West may face in the 1990’s “extreme vulnerability to supply cutoff — or cutbacks — from the Middle East.”

In the report on “The Changing Oil Situation” made public at ADL’s National Commission meeting here, ADL warned that the U.S. remains “in a serious bind on the oil front” and that “the Arabs and their OPEC allies seem on their way to a dominant position in the world oil trade and appear to have learned some lessons from their past greed and mistakes.”

Abraham Foxman, ADL’s associate national director and head of its International Affairs Division, said that with oil prices rising again and a market decrease in energy conservation and the search for new forms of alternative energy methods, “the future of American oil security does not appear to be encouraging.”

Foxman said the “shrewder” Saudis “seem to be seeking to set the price level for their oil more precisely — to maximize revenues, but at a low enough price level to stimulate U.S. and Western oil consumption while preventing a revival of U.S. and Western oil production.”

According to the ADL study, developments in the world oil market since 1985 have resulted in the following:

U.S. domestic production has decreased by 540,000 barrels a day, about 6 percent.

An increase in U.S. oil consumption by 650,000 barrels a day, about 4 percent.

A net loss for the U.S. in decreased production and increased consumption of 1.19 million barrels of oil a day.

U.S. imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products from all sources abroad have correspondingly increased by 1.12 million barrels a day — 22 percent.

U.S. imports in January 1987 were 37.7 percent of total U.S. consumption, up from 32.2 percent in 1985.

Sixty-four percent of the increase in U.S. oil imports has been coming from the Arab OPEC countries — more than 700,000 barrels a day–almost all of it from Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis were supplying in January 1987 an average of 873,000 barrels a day — an increase of 420 percent above the 1985 U.S. average of 168 thousand barrels.

The study noted that the worsening U.S. oil position followed a five-year period marked by massive American efforts toward energy efficiency and conservation that led to the decline of OPEC and its leader, Saudi Arabia. American oil dependence and vulnerability peaked in the 1977 period when U.S. consumption averaged 18.6 million barrels a day and total U.S. oil imports and crude and refined petroleum products averaged 8.5 million barrels a day or 45.7 percent of U.S. consumption.

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