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 14 countries in OPEC in 2017, only 6 of them were Persian Gulf countries.
The United States produces a large share of the petroleum it consumes, but it still relies on imports to help meet demand
In 2017, the United States produced1 about 15.4 million barrels of petroleum per day (MMb/d), and it consumed2 about 19.9 MMb/d. Imports from other countries help to supply demand for petroleum.
Petroleum includes more than just crude oil
Petroleum includes more products than just crude oil. Petroleum includes refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, unfinished oils, and other liquids such as fuel ethanol, blending components for gasoline, and other refinery inputs.
In 2017, the United States imported about 10.1 MMb/d of petroleum, which included 7.9 MMb/d of crude oil and 2.2 MMb/d of noncrude petroleum liquids and refined petroleum products.
U.S. reliance on petroleum imports has declined in recent years
U.S. petroleum imports peaked in 2005 and generally declined up until 2015. This trend was the result of many factors, including a decline in consumption, increased use of domestic biofuels (ethanol in gasoline and biodiesel in diesel fuel), and increased domestic production of crude oil and hydrocarbon gas liquids. The economic downturn following the financial crisis of 2008, improvements in vehicle fuel economy, and changes in consumer behavior contributed to the decline in U.S. petroleum consumption. Imports and consumption both increased in 2015 through 2017.
The net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum relative to petroleum consumption is one measure of our reliance on imports to help meet petroleum demand. In 2017, net imports of petroleum averaged 3.7 MMb/d, the equivalent of 19% of total U.S. petroleum consumption, which was the lowest percentage since 1967.
Share of imports from OPEC and Persian Gulf countries has declined, while the share of imports from Canada has increased
U.S. petroleum imports rose sharply in the 1970s, especially from nations that comprise the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In 1977, when the United States exported relatively small amounts of petroleum, OPEC nations were the source of 70% of total U.S. petroleum imports. Since 1977, the share of total U.S. petroleum imports from OPEC has generally declined. In 2017, OPEC's share of total U.S. petroleum imports was about 33%. OPEC member Saudi Arabia was the largest source of U.S. petroleum imports from OPEC, about 9% of total U.S. petroleum imports.
In 2017, about 17% of U.S. petroleum imports came from Persian Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia was the largest source of U.S. imports from Persian Gulf countries.
Canada is the largest source of U.S. petroleum imports. Canada's share of U.S. petroleum imports has increased significantly. Canada was the source of 15% of U.S. petroleum imports in 1994 and 40% in 2017.
The five largest sources of U.S. petroleum imports by share of total imports in 2017 were
- Saudi Arabia—9%
The United States exports petroleum
Because the United States imports petroleum, it may seem surprising that it also exports petroleum. In 2017, total U.S. petroleum exports averaged about 6.3 MMb/d. Total U.S. petroleum exports included about 1.1 MMb/d of crude oil, about 29% of which went to Canada.
Most U.S. petroleum exports are petroleum liquids and refined petroleum products. Because of logistical, regulatory, and quality considerations, exporting some petroleum 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 from Europe may be available to the East Coast.
The five largest destinations of U.S. petroleum exports by share of total exports in 2017 were
Does the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) know which companies purchase imported crude oil or gasoline?
Although EIA cannot identify which companies sell imported gasoline or gasoline refined from imported oil, it does publish data on the companies that import petroleum into the United States. However, the fact that a given company imported crude oil does not mean that those imports will be used to produce the gasoline sold to motorists as that company's brand of gasoline. Gasoline from different refineries and import terminals is often combined for shipment by pipeline. Different companies owning service stations in the same area may be purchasing gasoline at the same bulk terminal, which may or may not include imported gasoline or gasoline refined from imported oil.
1 U.S. domestic petroleum production includes total petroleum field production, renewable fuels and oxygenate plant net production, and refinery processing gain. Preliminary data for 2017.