In the past two decades, oil consumption has exploded in countries like China and India, where expanding middle classes have driven large-scale economic growth. China’s demand for oil has nearly tripled over that period. During that time, the United States has remained the world’s biggest consumer of oil, going through tens of millions of barrels a day. A recent shale-drilling boom in the United States has caused the production of oil and gas in the country to skyrocket, making America less dependent on imports and allowing it to reclaim its role as a leader in the global energy industry. Oil production in the United States grew an extraordinary 17 percent last year.
After the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last year, the United States began to tighten its sanctions on the country. The measures, although not adopted by all nations, allow the United States to punish companies and countries that engage in trade with Iran. Some countries were initially granted waivers under the sanctions, but many have stopped buying oil from Iran to avoid the risk of being punished by the United States. As a result, Irans exports have plummeted.