Christian Science Monitor runs a piece about the sources of US oil imports. It notes that over the past ten years, Saudi Arabia’s oil imports have decreased, moving the Kingdom from the #1 position down to #3. Canada has greatly increased its exports to the US and Mexico, while its volume has declined, rises to #2 because Saudi imports have declined more sharply.

Credit: Robert Rapier/EIA

Top 15 sources of US crude oil imports
Here’s where the US is really getting its oil, plus a look at how imports have changed over the past decade.
Robert Rapier

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently published an article on 2011 U.S. crude oil imports. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at where the U.S. currently obtains its oil, and how that has changed over the past decade. The EIA story is: Nearly 69% of U.S. crude oil imports originated from five countries in 2011. I downloaded their data sources for 2011 import data, and then also went into the archives and pulled up 2001 import data to create the above table.

Over the past decade, Canada became our top supplier of oil, largely due to increases in oil sands production. The EIA report noted that U.S. imports from Canada topped 2 million barrels per day for the first time ever in 2011, “because more oil is now being transported by rail.” This is one of the reasons that the Keystone XL pipeline protests may have the opposite effect of what the protesters intend. Lack of pipeline access isn’t going to slow the growth of the oil sands much (Canadian crude oil imports were up 12% in 2011), it just forces more oil onto more carbon intensive transport options (and perhaps to more distant destinations). Note that there is also greater risk from transporting oil via rail versus pipeline.

Saudi Arabia declined in importance as a supplier of oil to the U.S. over the decade, falling from the top supplier in 2001 to the third spot last year. Imports from Mexico were down 13% over the decade, but Mexico moved into the Number 2 position due to Saudi Arabia’s sharp drop. Countries that were in the Top 15 in 2001 that failed to make the Top 15 in 2011 were Norway (#8 in 2001), the U.K. (#10), Gabon (#12), Argentina (#14), and Trinidad and Tobago (#15). Replacing them in the Top 15 were Algeria, Brazil, Russia, and Cameroon.


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