On the morning of Sept. 14, two oil installations in Saudi Arabia were bombed by drones, causing average gas prices in the U.S. to rise for the first time in 10 weeks.
A Saudi Aramco plant in the middle of the east coast of Saudi Arabia was one of the plants hit by the drone strikes. Saudi Aramco is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil producers and the part of the plant damaged by the strikes was responsible for the majority of the country’s oil exports.
The drone strikes were claimed by rebels from Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor, although the area of the strikes were about 500 miles from Yemen and said to have come from the north or northwest. This led U.S. officials to believe the strikes to have come from Iran, which is just across the Persian Gulf from the area of Saudi Arabia that was hit. As of now, nothing has been confirmed.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sept. 15, “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
However, on Sept. 16 in a White House brief with Trump and the Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, a small country right off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Trump said he does not want war and does not believe it will occur.
The week following the attack in Saudi Arabia, there was a slight increase in gas prices all across the U.S., due to the decrease in oil imports the U.S. could receive from Saudi Arabia. In Ulster County, prices increased by 7 cents, making gas $2.62 per gallon. The national average increased 8.5 cents, bringing the price per gallon up to $2.66.
In a recent White House brief, Trump said he was not concerned about the effect the attack might have on the gas prices and amount of oil in the U.S.
“Well, they haven’t risen very much,” Trump said. “And we have the Strategic Oil Reserves, which are massive. And we can release a little bit of that.”
“I haven’t personally noticed a change in prices, or at least anything noticeable,” said third-year digital media production major Julie Polack. “It is easy to get outraged about an increase in gas prices, but you have to stay aware of the world around you and understand why things are changing.”
While the U.S. used to rely heavily on Saudi Arabia for oil imports, the U.S. currently obtains 40% of its oil from domestic soil. When the U.S. does import oil, the majority comes from Canada before Saudi Arabia.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven main areas in the U.S. where drilling takes place. The majority of the sites are in or around Texas but there is a large area spanning across parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
“I’m not a huge advocate of obtaining gas from U.S. soil, it could be detrimental to our natural environments in Alaska,” Polack said. “I’m aware there’s a lot of oil up there, but I think it could destroy the state with excessive greed and desire.”
While the U.S. was not greatly affected by the strikes on Sept. 14, “Saudi Arabia possesses around 18% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum,” according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which means other countries who import oil from Saudi Arabia may experience an oil deficit in the coming weeks.
According to the OPEC, in Saudi Arabia “The oil and gas sector accounts for about 50% of gross domestic product, and about 70% of export earnings.”
The airstrikes in Saudi Arabia may not have drastically changed gas prices in the U.S., but there are likely to be huge effects to Saudi Arabia’s economy, as well as countries who receive the majority of their oil from Saudi Arabia.