Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that he believes president-elect Donald Trump will allow foreign oil imports to continue under his administration.
In an interview with the Financial Times, al-Falih said he believes that Trump will “see the benefits” of oil imports and that the oil industry will advise him that “blocking trade in any product is not healthy.”
“The U.S. continues to be a very important part of a global industry that is interconnected, that is dealing with a fungible commodity which is crude oil. So having equalization through free trade is very healthy for oil,” al-Falih said.
Trump has previously pledged to halt foreign oil imports coming into the United States as part of a plan to encourage domestic energy independence.
Although U.S. oil imports have climbed by double digits year-over-year, growing domestic production pushed imports down to a thirty-five year low in 2015.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 8.4 million barrels per day last week, up 981,000 barrels per day from the previous week.
Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 8 million barrels per day, a 12.6 percent increase compared to the same four-week period last year.
According to data collected by the EIA, gross imports from Saudi Arabia averaged about 1.06 million barrels per day in 2015, accounting for about 11 percent of total U.S. imports.
While Saudi Arabia was the second largest provider of U.S. crude imports last year, gross imports from the OPEC kingpin were well behind the 3.76 million barrels per day provided by Canada.
In 2015, U.S. net imports of petroleum from foreign countries accounted for about 24 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption, the lowest level since 1970.
Trump has made U.S. energy production a centerpiece of his plan for his first 100 days in office.
According to a copy of the plan obtained by NPR, Trump has pledged to “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.”
Trump has also promised to lift regulations on large energy infrastructure projects, a move that could help revive the Keystone XL pipeline.