Did you know?
OPEC and Persian Gulf countries are not the same.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was organized in 1960 for the purpose of negotiating with oil companies on matters of oil production, prices, and future concession rights. Of the 12 countries currently in OPEC, only 6 of them are in the Persian Gulf.
The United States produces most of the petroleum it consumes
The United States is the world's largest petroleum consumer, and it consumed about 19 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) of petroleum products in 2014 (about 20% of world total). The United States is the world's third-largest crude oil producer, but only part of the nation's petroleum needs are met by crude oil and other liquids produced in the United States.
The United States imported about 7.3 MMbbl/d of crude oil and 1.9 MMbb/d of petroleum liquids and refined products in 2014. The United States also exported 3.8 MMbbl/d of crude oil and petroleum products (0.3 MMbbl/d was crude oil), which made the United States a net exporter of petroleum liquids and refined products. Net imports of crude oil and petroleum products (imports minus exports) averaged 5.2 MMbbl/d and accounted for 27% of U.S. total petroleum consumption in 2014, the lowest level since 1985.
U.S. reliance on petroleum imports has declined
U.S. dependence on imported petroleum has declined since peaking in 2005. This trend is the result of a variety of factors including a decline in consumption and shifts in supply patterns. The economic downturn following the financial crisis of 2008, improvements in efficiency, changes in consumer behavior, and patterns of economic growth all contributed to the decline in petroleum consumption. Additionally, increased use of domestic biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) and strong gains in domestic production of crude oil and natural gas plant liquids expanded domestic supplies and reduced the need for imports.
Share of imports from OPEC has declined
U.S. petroleum imports rose sharply in the 1970s, especially from nations that comprise the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In 1977, OPEC nations were the source of 70% of total U.S. petroleum imports, when the United States exported relatively small amounts of petroleum. Since then, the share has generally declined. In 2014, OPEC's share of total U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products was 59%.
In 2014, about 37% of U.S. crude oil and petroleum product net imports came from the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Petroleum imports include more than just crude oil
In addition to crude oil, the United States also imports refined petroleum products such as gasoline. Although the United States produces most of the petroleum products it consumes (using imported and domestically produced crude oil and other liquids), it imported about 1.9 MMbbl/d of finished petroleum products in 2014.
In addition to imports of finished petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel, the United States also imports unfinished products used as refinery inputs and blending components. Unfinished oils are refined from crude oil at refineries outside the United States. Imported unfinished oils are used as inputs to U.S. refineries for processing into finished petroleum products. Imported gasoline blending components and fuel ethanol are blended at U.S. refineries and terminals to produce finished gasoline.
The United States also exports crude oil and petroleum products
Because the United States is the world's largest oil importer, it may seem surprising that it also exported about 4.2 million barrels a day of petroleum in 2014, and most of that total was refined petroleum products. Because of various logistical, regulatory, and quality considerations, exporting some products and replacing them with additional imports is the most economical way to meet the market's needs. For example, refiners in the U.S. Gulf Coast region frequently find that it makes economic sense to export some of their gasoline to Mexico rather than shipping it to the East Coast of the United States, because lower-cost gasoline imports are available to the East Coast from Europe. In 2014, the United States exported an average of 0.3 MMbb/d of crude oil, and nearly all of it went to Canada.
Does the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) know which companies purchase imported crude oil or gasoline?
While EIA cannot identify which companies are selling imported gasoline, or gasoline refined from imported oil, it does collect data on which companies import crude oil and refined products. However, the fact that a given company imported crude oil or gasoline does not mean that those particular imports will end up being sold to motorists as that company's brand of gasoline. This is because gasoline from different refineries is often combined for shipment by pipeline, and different companies owning service stations in the same area may be purchasing gasoline at the same bulk terminal.