The Biden administration has been searching worldwide for partners that can pick up the slack in the global oil markets in the aftermath of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Now, it is moving to shore up ties with a traditional partner that feels maligned by the White House -- Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States deployed a new battery of Patriot missiles to the oil-rich kingdom. The move comes as Saudi Arabia has signaled its disappointment that the U.S. has not urgently leapt to meet its demands for increased air defenses against the missiles and drones from Yemen that have targeted the country’s oil installations. 

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the U.S. has been hard pressed to convince its partners to increase oil production. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price of a gallon of gas stands at $4.25, but in some states are paying close to $6.

In a bid to help bring down energy prices in the European Union and help its members wean themselves off Russian oil supplies, Washington has been feeling acute pressure to raise production. However, Saudi Arabia has not been receptive to U.S. overtures.

After a controversial but close relationship under former President Donald Trump, U.S.-Saudi relations under President Joe Biden have plummeted. As a candidate, Biden said he would turn the kingdom into a “pariah state” over its role in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Shortly after taking office, Biden declassified an intelligence assessment that suggested Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was responsible for ordering his murder. His administration’s choice to remove the Yemeni Houthis, the group that launched attacks on Saudi Arabia’s energy installations, from the U.S. foreign terrorist list also unnerved Riyadh. 

On Sunday, the Houthis launched another barrage of missiles at Saudi facilities in the ports of Jeddah and Yanbu. After the attacks, Saudi officials warned they could not be held responsible for any increase in global prices after the attacks. 

This poor state of affairs has earned snubs from the Saudis as well. Last month, it was reported that MbS refused a phone call with Biden and told The Atlantic that he did not care about Biden's views of him. At the same time, Riyadh has trumpeted an upcoming visit by China’s President Xi Jinping in early April and has even entertained the idea of executing oil transactions in renminbi.