Saudi Arabia's oil minister said on Tuesday he welcomes the new U.S. energy supplies as he expects the country to remain an importer of crude from the Middle East.

The United States is producing oil at the highest level in 20 years thanks to hydraulic fracturing and other advanced drilling techniques. "The United States is and will remain a major energy consumer," Ali al-Naimi said at a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"Talk of energy independence fails to recognize the interconnected nature of international energy markets. I believe this talk of ending reliance is a naive a rather simplistic view," he said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)