Probably not, energy consultants say.
“For the U.S., energy security means having access globally to competitive low cost energy supplies,” said Alan Hegburg, senior fellow in the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
That means it is unlikely that Venezuela’s manipulation of the market would have an effect on this access, he says.
Hegburg suggests that the oil market is flexible enough and well supplied enough to withstand a decline in supply of Venezuelan oil.
“Because the oil market is a global one, whether the United States imports oil from a country or not, makes no difference to U.S. national security,” said Keith Crane, director of the environment, energy and economic development program at the RAND Corporation, via e-mail.
Canada is actually the largest exporter of oil to the United States. It is followed by Mexico, Saudi Arabia and then Venezuela, according to the Global Post. Nigeria, Angola and Iraq come next in line.
However, one theory factoring into the oil and national security paradox suggests oil wealth allows countries to operate counter to the U.S. “The control over enormous oil revenues gives exporting countries the flexibility to adopt policies that oppose U.S. interests and values,” says a report by the Council on Foreign Relations.
In the case of Venezuela, with the U.S. importing most of the oil the nation is exporting, it seems Chavez would be cutting off his nose to spite his face.
According to a report from the RAND Corporation, the U.S. imported $38.8 billion worth of petroleum and refined oil from Venezuela in 2007. And, it might prove difficult for the president to do things like expand Venezuelan influence throughout Latin America, support the destabilization of neighboring governments and beef up Venezuela’s military were he almost $40 billion in the hole.
But, as Crane points out, if we stopped importing oil from Venezuela, someone else would buy it. So, the question becomes, how much of a threat is Venezuela in general?
Says the RAND report, “increased oil revenues have given Chavez more freedom to pursue policies antithetical to U.S. interests, but have not permitted him to become a serious threat to U.S. national security.”
It suggests he is not well respected by his neighbors, being unable to buy—despite all his oil revenues—influence on their political and economic policies. Nor does Venezuela pose a military threat to the U.S.