Every year, the United States pumps up some of its own oil (called "Field Production" according to the DoE) and imports the rest. Not surprisingly, American field production has been dropping over time. In the year 2000, American commercial field production made up 33.51% of its total supply of crude oil, while imports made up 52.21%. In 2005, those same percentages were 28.44% and 55.85%, respectively. And, of course, there's no reason to expect either of these trends not to continue going down and up, respectively, in the near future.
The United States has been importing oil since at least 1910 (according to DoE statistics), when a mere 557 thousand barrels of oil were brought into the country. Last year, the U.S. imported 3,670,403 thousand barrels of oil. Of those 3.67 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. imported from a total of 42 different countries. The top 5 importing countries were Canada (16.34%), Mexico (15.42%), Saudi Arabia (14.30%), Venezuela (12.24%), and Nigeria (10.54%), for a total of 68.84% of all American imports. In contrast, imports from countries 6 through 10 (Iraq, Angola, Ecuador, Algeria and the United Kingdom) make up only 16.84% of the total, with countries 11 through 42 making up the remaining 14.33%.
Looked at another way, only 21.69% of America's oil imports come from the Persian Gulf region. Per the DoE, the Persian Gulf includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates; however, Iran and Qatar export no oil to the United States. If we compare imports from OPEC countries vs. non-OPEC countries, we find that non-OPEC countries are now in the majority, 52.64% vs. 47.36%. And, with the exception of one year, 2001, non-OPEC countries have been in the ascendancy since 1994.
1. American field production will probably go below 25% of its total annual supply within the next five years.
2. In that same time frame, imports will probably be in the high 50s percentage (perhaps 58-59%).
3. America will continue to seek the majority of its oil from non-OPEC countries, such as Canada and Mexico, if only to avoid being as dependent on OPEC countries as they have been in the past. However, this will probably turn out to be a pipe dream in the long run unless Canadian oil reserve estimates turn out to be near the high end. (Estimates for Canada's proven oil reserves ranges from 4.7 billion barrels (World Oil) to 14.803 billion barrels (BP Statistical Review) to 178.792 billion barrels (Oil & Gas Journal). Obviously, this extremely wide range of guesses shows that no one truly knows how much oil Canada has.)
4. Persian Gulf oil, which has ranged between 19.81% and 28.56% of all U.S. imports since 1996, will probably continue to hover in the high teens-low 20s, despite President Bush's goal to cut American consumption of Middle Eastern oil by 75% by 2025, per the latest State of the Union address.
US Crude Oil Supply and Disposition (DoE)
US Crude Oil Imports by Country of Origin (DoE)
World Proved Reserves of Oil and Natural Gas, Most Recent Estimates
Update: I've written an updated post to this; please see Update: How Much Oil Does America Import.
Note: Despite the age of this article, it remains extremely popular, currently getting over 20% of all my hits on a daily basis. Since I wrote this post, I've written a number of other articles on oil. You might want to check out the following (so far to date; the most recent are at the top):
And over at one of my other blogs:
I hope to have a number of other posts like the one above at the new blog, J2TM, in the near future.