Too Much Oil on their Minds: The Shale Revolution and U.S. Policy Towards the Gulf

Number: 42

This Masarat briefing seeks to determine whether the “shale revolution,” which has been unlocking vast new oil reserves in the United States, has prompted a reassessment of long-standing U.S. policies designed to ensure access to oil supplies as well as relationships with key Gulf producers—including Saudi Arabia. While the United States continues to source a significant portion of energy imports from the Gulf (and remains reliant on global energy markets), some U.S. policy makers no longer seem to view ensuring Gulf oil production as a vital, nonnegotiable security interest; it is an important interest among many, to be sure, but no longer one that automatically overrides other policy pursuits. Thus, while energy security remains an important element in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, U.S. policy no longer seems constrained by fears that Saudi Arabia might unleash the “oil weapon” in pursuit of the Kingdom’s own policy aims.