The Arab News daily's columnist Syed Rashid Husain surveys the oil scene in Saudi Arabia since the founder of the kingdom King Abdulaziz met with President Roosevelt on board the U.S. Navy cruiser Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake segment of the Suez Canal. For decades, oil has been "the binding force, helping to glue the bondage between the otherwise two distinctly different nations, despite upheavals and impediments." But the glue is beginning to peel off.
Due to its own strategic considerations, the United States has been trying to rid themselves of the Saudi addiction. As a result, Saudi Arabia is no longer the largest supplier of crude to the U.S. [In fact, it may be the third or even fourth-ranked supplier behind Canada, Mexico and perhaps even Venezuela.]
As a result, the Saudis have adopted the "look east" policy. Saudi Arabia is now the top crude seller to the rapidly growing economy of China. In fact, Riyadh has for six months been the top crude supplier to China, averaging 1.04 million barrels/day. In the words of Khalid al-Falih, the CEO of Aramco, the Saudi Arabia national oil company, "We are the most reliable, we have the largest reserves, the largest spare capacity, so I think 20% of the [Chinese] market [of about 12 million barrels/day] will not be unthinkable."
Source: Arab News, Saudi Arabia, March 27, 2011