Today in Energy

November 21, 2014

EIA releases new online tool to track crude oil imports

image of crude oil import tracking tool, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

EIA's recently released U.S. Crude Oil Import Tracking Tool, designed to analyze crude oil imports in response to growing domestic production, allows users to sort and display imports by month or year, density (i.e., light, medium, heavy), country of origin, port of entry, processing company, processing refinery, and more. The tool features graphing and mapping capabilities and a built-in help function.

Recent and anticipated increases in domestic crude production have sparked discussion about how rising crude oil volumes will be absorbed. To date, increased production has displaced some imported crude oil, which has fallen from 8.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2011 to 7.5 million bbl/d in August 2014. EIA's import tool sheds light on the changes to imports in response to growing production of crude oil within the United States.

The new tool was launched on EIA's beta site to solicit customer feedback, which will be incorporated into the final release.

EIA also released a report containing sample applications of the new tool. The sample applications were selected to illustrate the tool's capabilities to access information from EIA's monthly company-level import database for different time periods, regions, companies, and crude oil qualities. Selected insights include changes in the following trends:

  • Volume and quality of U.S. crude oil imports. U.S. crude oil imports have declined since 2010, with nearly the entire decline occurring in light sweet grades. Through August 2014, U.S. light crude imports have fallen 71% compared to the level in 2010.
  • Source of U.S. crude oil imports. Imports of light crude from Africa, particularly from Nigeria and Algeria, have declined by 93% since 2010.
  • Light crude oil imports by region. The largest decline in crude oil imports occurred on the Gulf Coast (Petroleum Administration for Defense District, or PADD, 3), which were down 94% since 2010. Light crude oil imports by East Coast (PADD 1) refiners were down 69%, reflecting both their increased use of domestic crudes and modestly lower refinery runs.
  • Refinery-level trends in light crude imports. Imports by the 10 largest refineries using imported light crude in 2013 accounted for 55% of total U.S. light crude imports, with the remaining 45% distributed among more than 100 other refineries. The largest source for light crude imports among this group of 10 refineries was Canada, followed by Nigeria and Mexico.
  • Refinery-level trends in imports other than light sweet crude. There is evidence that some refineries have recently reduced imports of medium and heavy grades of crude oil to increasing production of domestic light oil. Other refiners have made changes in processing equipment to accommodate heavier crudes and have increased their imports of heavier crudes.

Principal contributor: EIA staff