U.S. Imports Of Saudi Oil Fall By 50 Percent

It's become conventional wisdom that the U.S. needs to reduce how much oil it imports from Saudi Arabia, in order to both improve our energy independence and to stop sending billions of dollars to the country that spawned Osama Bin Laden and almost all of the 9/11 hijackers.

That demand became a bipartisan campaign refrain in both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and has been repeated by countless columnists such as the New York Times's Thomas Friedman.

So, the recent announcement that oil imports from Saudi Arabia had dropped dramatically to its lowest point in 22 years and that the country had fallen from second to fifth (behind Nigeria) on the list of the biggest foreign suppliers of oil to the U.S. in August would seem to represent a fulfillment of that wish.

Not if you talk to oil industry analysts who emphasize that the reduction is due to the whims of Saudi Arabia and not to any change in policy or procedure by U.S. oil companies.

"Saudi Arabia runs the cartel (OPEC) so when they want to keep prices up, they price it so that no one wants it," energy analyst Philip Verleger tells Huffington Post.

Indeed, though Saudi Arabia's oil exports to the U.S. fell in half, from 1.533 million barrels per day in August 2008 to 745,000 barrels per day in August 2009, overall this year, the country was still third among the biggest oil exporters.