An American shale oil drill sits in a field of corn.

Tensions are rising in the Middle East following Saturday’s air strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The drone attack, which knocked out half the kingdom’s oil output — about 5.7 million barrels of daily production — is the latest in escalating conflicts in the Middle East.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Iranian-backed insurgents are engaged in a civil war against Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. But the U.S. says the advanced technology in the attacks is far too sophisticated to have been conducted by the rebel forces. Iran denies any involvement.

Tehran’s involvement seems likely. Since President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has continued to escalate tensions in the region with its ongoing harassment of oil tankers, the downing of an American surveillance drone in June and its demands that the U.S. and U.K. navies leave the strategically vital waterways.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted the U.S. is “locked and loaded.” He didn’t elaborate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tweet on Saturday was more restrained: “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”

An anonymous Washington official told The Associated Press that all responses, including military action, are on the table. But what are those other options? More sanctions? Limited military strikes on key Iranian bases? Crippling cyber attacks? We fervently hope war is the very last option.

The Associated Press says the strike has created the worst disruption of international oil stocks in history. Saudi Arabia produces about 12% of the world’s oil supplies. It will take the nation weeks to return to full production capacity. Trump has promised to dip into the U.S. strategic petroleum reserves if needed.

Nothing could disrupt world peace faster than a global fight over oil. Which makes us quite thankful for the impressive energy revolution that has taken place in the United States. With our remarkable production capabilities, the U.S. is producing 12.3 million barrels of crude oil every day. According to WorldOil.com, for the past two years, “the U.S. has supplied virtually all global growth in oil demand — and now can backstop global oil markets during a potential crisis.”

— Robin Beres

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