Report: US vulnerable to oil price shocks

As the U.S. strides toward becoming the world's leader in oil production, it may pay the price for America's heavy dependence on oil, according to a global energy security report issued Monday.

A surge in domestic oil production has helped the U.S. stabilize, but the country's fuel consumption is one of the highest in the new Oil Security Index — 1.7 gallons daily per person — leaving it vulnerable to fluctuating oil and gas prices.

The index, by Roubini Global Economics and Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE), reveals that while the dependence of the U.S. economy on oil has fallen by 60 percent since the 1970s, America still consumes more oil than China, Japan and Russia combined.

"Heavy oil dependence still renders the country highly vulnerable to price fluctuations in the short-to-medium term, particularly as economic growth — and fuel demand — recovers," according to the assessment.

An increase in hydraulic fracturing, leading to new recoverable oil and gas resources, along with more stringent regulations on vehicle fuel economy since 2007 contributed to a drop in America's oil intensity.

SAFE CEO Robbie Diamond said the oil security index reveals that “the path to true oil security is not paved by production alone.” Despite the domestic oil boom, U.S. oil security is “only middle-of-the-road,” he said in an interview with The Houston Chronicle.

The U.S. ranked fifth among the 13 countries evaluated in the oil security assessment, coming in behind Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

The contrast between oil security and production was also underscored by Saudi Arabia's rank, coming in last at No. 13. Saudi Arabia is second largest oil exporter to the U.S. and leading producer.

Overall, a country's ranking is based on its economy's structural dependency on oil, the security of its oil supplies and its economic exposure to the changing oil prices.