The US shale boom has made it possible for the Trump administration to take stronger positions in support of Israel, including recognizing its sovereignty over the Golan Heights because it is no longer dependent on imported oil, a senior US official has said.
Dan Brouillette, the deputy energy secretary, told the Financial Times that the position of the US was “radically different” from 1973-74 when the oil embargo imposed by Arab members of Opec during the Arab-Israeli war sent fuel prices soaring.
Although the US was still part of the global oil market as an importer and exporter, and hence affected by international developments, he said, it was no longer dependent on foreign countries for its fuel.
The shale boom has “allowed the president to make foreign policy decisions that simply were not available to previous presidents, at least not in my lifetime”, Mr. Brouillette said. “The freedom that this allows this president, and future presidents … is simply stunning.”
President Donald Trump signed the proclamation on the Golan Heights on Monday, at a ceremony at the White House attended by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.
Mr Trump has a close relationship with Mr. Netanyahu, who is running for re election in April. The US president has sided with the Israeli government on several issues including America’s withdrawal from the international agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
On Wednesday the White House declined to say if America’s increased energy self-sufficiency had contributed to the changing stance on Israel, including the move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
But a senior administration official told the FT that “America’s new energy abundance is empowering the Trump administration to further America’s interests around the world and support our partners and allies”. Mr. Brouillette has also argued that rising US oil output was weakening the influence of Opec over world oil markets. “As America comes online with increased production … we think that the US industry is going to be a viable competitor around the world, and Opec will become, over time, less and less relevant,” he said.