How Dependent Are We On Foreign Oil
Since peaking in 2005, petroleum imports from foreign countries has declined to the point where our net imports totaled about 40 percent of the country’s total annual consumption in 2012. Imports of crude oil and petroleum by-products in 2012 totaled 11 million barrels per day (MMbd) while exporting 3.2 MMbd – a net import of 7.8 MMbd.
Net imports is calculated by subtracting the total amount of petroleum exported from the total amount of petroleum imported. Petroleum is not only crude oil, but also products derived from petroleum, such as diesel fuel, and heating oil.
It may surprise some people that one half of these imports came from the Western Hemisphere – the Americas, the Caribbean, and U.S. territories – not the Middle East. The two countries the United States imports the most oil from are Canada and Saudi Arabia. Other Middle Eastern countries that export oil to us are Bahrain, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Specific percentages of imported oil by country in 2012:
Canada – 28%
Saudi Arabia – 13%
Mexico – 10%
Venezuela – 9%
Russia – 5%
The United States is the largest consumer of petroleum products in the world, using just over 18 MMbd. We are also the third largest producer of crude oil in the world, with an annual output of 6.5 MMbd in 2012. The difference between petroleum products and crude oil is that during processing crude oil expands, resulting in a number of by-products. Other sources of liquid fuel are a result of the processing of natural gas, and biofuels such as ethanol. The total production of these secondary sources of liquid fuel in 2012 was 4.8 MMbd.
The conclusion from this data is that the United States is far less dependent on foreign oil than it has been since 2005. Reasons for this decline are broad and numerous:
- A decline in oil consumption
- The modification of supply patterns
- The financial crisis of 2008
- Improvements in the efficiency of oil consuming machines
- Alteration of economic growth patterns
In addition, petroleum product supplies were expanded as there was an uptick of the amount of domestic oil production, an increase in the domestic production and consumption of biofuels, and fuel recovery from the processing and refinement of natural gas.