One of the recurring mysteries is how the United States and its allies can remain so dependent on Persian Gulf oil. The question has returned with a vengeance this year. The Post {"Oil and the Gulf War," editorial, Aug. 17} was right on the mark in that the administration has no meaningful energy policy to ensure the U.S. economy of reliable and affordable energy supplies as oil becomes more scarce.

The United States still imports 6 million barrels daily, about 37 percent of the U.S. supply. The danger is that the United States and its allies are likely to become more dependent in the future on imports, particularly from the Persian Gulf oil for more than 10 million barrels per day, about a third of the world's oil trade.

The Persian Gulf's position as the world's principal oil bank is practically ensured by another long-term factor: oil production outside the Middle East is peaking. Persian Gulf producers hold 58 percent of the world's total proven reserves of nearly 700 billion barrels. For the industrial nations to continue to depend on Persian Gulf oil will mean heavy reliance on a region of high political tension and risk.

The future need not be this way. The energy events of the 1970s show that electricity can provide a long-term and reliable successor to imported oil in many uses throughout our economy and, therefore, make the future less dangerous.

Unfortunately, the two sources of electricity that can realistically be counted on for large-scale use, nuclear energy and coal, are facing serious obstacles that threaten their additional use -- long-term financing, state utility commission actions inhibiting the construction of new power plants and an unnecessarily complex federal licensing process, to mention only a few. Some of these same obstacles are even threatening the continued operation of power plants already in service.

If the country can remove these roadblocks, electricity fueled by nuclear energy and coal could replace oil in most industrial and commercial applications except transportation. Together these applications account for nearly one-third of our total premium use, or about as much oil as we imported in 1986.

The larger question is whether the administration and Congress are willing to do what it takes to reduce our dependence on imported oil. For unless the situation changes dramatically, the United States will be more than 50 percent dependent on foreign oil by the 1990s, and an increasingly large part will come from the Persian Gulf region. CHARLES K. EBINGER Senior Fellow Center for Strategic and International Studies Washington BY SALIH MEMECAN