While the United States consumes roughly 19 million barrels
of oil a day, mostly to power its 200 million automobiles, it
produces only about 8 million barrels (or 42 percent) of that
total domestically. The other 58 percent -- some 11 million
barrels a day -- of our oil has to be imported from other countries.
Although the Middle East remains a principal oil supplier for
the U.S. market, in recent decades other parts of the world
-- West Africa and Central and South America -- have become
vitally important as sources of petroleum. Today, three non-Middle
East nations -- Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria -- combine to
provide the United States with almost as much oil as the Persian
Gulf region provides. But overall world oil reserves outside
of the Middle East appear to be limited, so over the longer
term, the United States expects to remain deeply dependent on
oil from the Persian Gulf.
Meanwhile, the global demand for oil is growing all over the
world, with India, China and South Korea in particular fueling
recent sharp increases in demand. This means that inevitably
there will be greater competition among nations for what is
by any measure a diminishing world oil supply. This is one reason
underlying the strategic deployment of U.S. military resources
in and around the Middle East.
The following charts summarize key aspects of the current global