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Oil and petroleum products explained Oil imports and exports

The United States became a total petroleum net exporter in 2020

In 2020, the United States became a net exporter of petroleum for the first time since at least 1949.1 In 2022, total petroleum exports were about 9.52 million barrels per day (b/d) and total petroleum imports were about 8.33 million b/d, making the United States an annual net total petroleum exporter for the third year in a row. Total petroleum net exports were about 1.19 million b/d in 2022. Also in 2022, the United States produced2 about 20.08 million b/d of petroleum and consumed3 about 20.01 million b/d. Although U.S. annual total petroleum exports were greater than total petroleum imports in 2020, 2021, and 2022, the United States still imported some crude oil and petroleum products from other countries to help to supply domestic demand for petroleum and to supply international markets.

The United States remained a net crude oil importer in 2022, importing about 6.28 million b/d of crude oil and exporting about 3.58 million b/d. Some of the crude oil that the U.S. imports is refined by U.S. refineries into petroleum products—such as gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, and jet fuel—that the U.S. later exports. Also, some of imported petroleum may be stored and later exported.

U.S. petroleum imports peaked in 2005

After generally increasing every year from 1954 through 2005, U.S. gross and net total petroleum imports peaked in 2005. Since 2005, increased domestic petroleum production and increased petroleum exports have helped to reduce annual total petroleum net imports.

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Shares of U.S. petroleum imports from OPEC and Persian Gulf countries have declined, and the share of imports from Canada has increased

U.S. petroleum imports rose sharply in the 1970s, especially from members of OPEC. In 1977, when the United States exported relatively small amounts of petroleum, OPEC nations were the source of 70% of U.S. total petroleum imports and the source of 85% of U.S. crude oil imports.

Since 1977, the percentage shares of U.S. total petroleum and crude oil imports from OPEC countries have generally declined. Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC petroleum exporter to the United States, was the source of 7% of U.S. total petroleum imports and 7% of U.S. crude oil imports. Saudi Arabia is also the greatest source of U.S. petroleum imports from Persian Gulf countries. About 12% of U.S. total petroleum imports and 12% of U.S. crude oil imports were from Persian Gulf countries in 2022.

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Petroleum imports from Canada have increased significantly since the 1990s, and Canada is now the largest single source of U.S. total petroleum and crude oil imports. In 2022, Canada was the source of 52% of U.S. gross total petroleum imports and 60% of gross crude oil imports.

  • The top five sources of U.S. total petroleum (including crude oil) imports by percentage share of total petroleum imports in 2022 were:
  • Canada52%
  • Mexico10%
  • Saudi Arabia7%
  • Iraq4%
  • Colombia3%
  • The top five sources of U.S. crude oil imports by percentage share of U.S. total crude oil imports in 2022 were:
  • Canada60%
  • Mexico10%
  • Saudi Arabia7%
  • Iraq4%
  • Colombia4%

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OPEC and Persian Gulf countries are not the same.

Of the 13 members of OPEC as of January 1, 2023, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are Persian Gulf countries.

Most U.S. total 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 U.S. East Coast because lower-cost gasoline imports from Europe may be available to the East Coast.

Petroleum liquids include hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs). HGL exports, mainly propane, have increased substantially since 2008, and in 2022, were about 25% of total U.S. total petroleum gross exports.

  • The top five destinations of U.S. total petroleum exports (including crude oil) by percentage share of U.S. total gross petroleum exports in 2022 were:
  • Mexico12%
  • Canada9%
  • China7%
  • South Korea6%
  • The Netherlands6%

  • The top five destinations of U.S. crude oil exports by percentage share of U.S. total crude oil exports in 2022 were:
  • South Korea10%
  • The Netherlands10%
  • Canada9%
  • United Kingdom9%
  • Singapore9%

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Some companies purchase imported crude oil and gasoline

Although we cannot identify which companies sell imported gasoline or gasoline refined from imported oil, we publish data on the companies that import petroleum into the United States. A company that imports crude oil does not necessarily use those imports to produce the gasoline sold as that company's brand of gasoline. Gasoline from different refineries and import terminals is often combined when shipped 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 Petroleum is a broadly defined class of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures that include crude oil, lease condensate, unfinished oils, and products produced from refining crude oil and from processing natural gas plant liquids, including hydrocarbon gas liquids. Volumes of finished petroleum products include non-hydrocarbon compounds, such as fuel ethanol, biodiesel, additives, and detergents, that are blended into the products.

2 U.S. domestic petroleum production includes field production of crude oil and natural gas liquids, renewable fuels and oxygenate plant net production, and refinery processing gain.

3 Consumption is represented by product supplied.

Last updated: January 19, 2024, with data from the Petroleum Supply Annual, August 2023, and Monthly Energy Review, September 2023.