The threat to the Asia’s vital oil supplies from the Middle East has escalated sharply since four oil tankers were sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman on May 13. A second attack on oil vessels in the region in June, the arrest of a British-flagged oil tanker by Iran’s revolutionary guards, and the U.S. and Iran shooting down each other’s surveillance drones in the area — these all point to a protracted problem that could become much worse before it gets better.
But as Asia’s biggest oil-consuming economies grapple with the twin challenges of this escalating hostility and losing access to Iranian crude under U.S. sanctions, their solution — seeking refuge in increased imports from the U.S. — is a risky strategy.
American oil is a welcome new option for diversification, but hardly a replacement for the fraught supplies from the Middle East in terms of quality, long-term security or cost of supply.
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