If you’re lucky enough to be able to leave your home while many are under lockdown, you may have noticed that gasoline is getting absurdly cheap — in at least one area it was sold for under $1 per gallon.
Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into that number than the whims of the man who spends a 12-hour shift between the Slim Jims and the lottery tickets.
World demand for gas and oil has plummeted since the start of the current pandemic thanks to a combination of factors, including a sharp decrease in land, air and sea traffic.
Supply and demand affects everything, after all, including our own oil markets.
For American energy companies, especially those that deal in shale oil, the downturn in demand for oil is a danger to revenue and the livelihoods of the 150,000 who work in the industry.
Having successful domestic energy companies is a boon to average Americans, who would benefit from having access to cheap fuel regardless of the designs of other nations.
For countries like Saudi Arabia, a powerful player in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries oil cartel, American energy independence is a direct threat to its status quo.
Until now, there was little the Middle Eastern country could do to combat the success of United States energy. With the downturn in oil prices and tough times ahead for U.S. oil, the Saudis have taken the opportunity to turn on America in an attempt to bring us to heel.
Saudi Arabia isn’t dispatching troops for this attack but is sending a flotilla of supertankers carrying roughly seven times the normal amount consumed in a pre-pandemic month. According to The Wall Street Journal, the tankers are set to arrive throughout April and May.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, seeing the incoming bloodbath for the U.S. energy sector, sent the Saudis a single message: “TURN THE TANKERS THE HELL AROUND.”
20 tankers—filled w/ 40mm barrels of Saudi oil—are headed to the US. This is SEVEN TIMES the typical monthly flow. At the same time, oil futures are plummeting & millions of US jobs in jeopardy. My message to the Saudis: TURN THE TANKERS THE HELL AROUND. https://t.co/gYoQzvHAEQ
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 21, 2020
The glut of oil entering the United States would undercut domestic energy companies, potentially undoing years of progress made under President Donald Trump.
It’s unclear when demand for oil will increase again, putting a giant question mark on the employment status of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The move follows several others by Saudi Arabia that seem to reinforce the cultural and political differences between the kingdom and the United States.
The gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, human rights abuses and other problems under the Saudi regime hint that a decoupling from America is not only likely, but unavoidable.
Just like with our increasingly rocky relationship with China, it seems America’s past attitude of seeing every nation as a potential friend is not going to fly in the 21st century.
If we can’t trust our own business partners not to undermine critical U.S. infrastructure, or even to tell us the truth about a viral outbreak, is it really worth maintaining these relationships?
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.