Barack Obama's policy calling for reducing US dependence on foreign oil imports will not pose a significant threat to Gulf producers who pump nearly a fifth of global needs, experts said today. Mr Obama, the first African-American to win the presidential race, had vowed during his campaigning that within 20 years 85 per cent of cars on US roads would no longer be powered by oil or gas-based fuels.
He also eased his initial opposition to proposed legislation to allow offshore drilling in a bid to raise US domestic oil production, thus helping reduce dependence on foreign oil imports and bring down prices. "There will be no problem for the Gulf countries in the foreseeable future even if Mr Obama succeeds in implementing his policy," said the head of the Saudi Al Dakkak Economic Studies House, Ali al Dakkak.
"Whatever the United States does, it will continue to need foreign oil for a very long time," the Jeddah-based Dakkak said. The United States would not be able to reduce the price of oil by increasing domestic output because production costs there are very high, he said. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, grouping Opec members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar besides Oman and Bahrain, produce 14-15 million barrels per day, just under 20 per cent of global needs.
The six nations, which sit on 45 per cent of the world's proven crude reserves, export around 13 million bpd of which only 10-12 per cent goes to the United States, the Kuwaiti oil expert Hajjaj Bukhdur said. "The Gulf states will be unaffected by any new US energy policy because of their huge reserves, and their importance is bound to increase as production drops in other regions," Mr Bukhdur said.