President Obama vowed Tuesday to protect the flow of oil from the Middle East and North Africa even as U.S. reliance on petroleum imports declines.

“We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends upon the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy,” Obama said in a speech to the United Nations.

U.S. imports are dropping amid the domestic oil-and-gas production boom, improved auto efficiency and other factors.

A senior State Department official similarly said in March that declining U.S. import reliance “in no way change[s] the U.S. commitment to global security, to peace and stability in the Middle East, and to security in transit lanes.”