6. To the Ends of the Earth

From 2007 to 2009, as the US economy slowly sank into the most vicious economic downturn in three decades, demand for oil crashed. Exports of crude from Saudi Arabia fell below 1 million barrels a day for the first time in two decades. Plenty of market observers wondered aloud whether the US had seen peak demand for oil and predicted that crude oil prices would remain depressed for years to come as a result. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy bounced back more quickly than most economists dared hope at the beginning of the year. And even as Saudi Arabia’s exports to the West plummeted, shipments to China soared above 1 million barrels a day. China overtook the US to become Saudi Arabia’s largest oil export market.

This ...

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