We're No. 1 (and No. 3)! Surprising Facts About the U.S. and Oil

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California oil wellWith the price of oil fluctuating around $100 per barrel, here's a timely question: Where does America get its oil? Some of the answers might surprise you.

All of the data here are derived from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is treasure trove of data on global energy. For example, Libya has the largest proven reserves of oil in Africa.

Let's start with America's oil consumption, which is 18.8 million barrels per day (MBD), according to the EIA. That usage puts the U.S. atop the list of the world's largest oil consumers by a wide margin. Indeed, U.S. demand is more than that of the next four nations combined: Japan, Russia and rising economic powers China and India:

U.S : 18.8 MBD
China: 8.3
Japan: 4.4
India: 3.1
Russia: 2.7

Who's Pumping What

What countries are the top producers of oil? The answer provides an important context for any discussion of oil supply:

Russia: 9.9 MBD
Saudi Arabia: 9.7
U.S.: 9.1

Are you surprised that the U.S. is still the No. 3 producer of oil in the world? The U.S. produces roughly the same amount of oil as Canada, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates combined (No. 6, 7 and 8 on the top producers list). That means the U.S. supplies 48.6% of its consumption while it imports 51.4% of consumption, or 9.67 MBD, from oil-exporting nations.

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Given that total global production of oil is 85.5 MBD and total consumption is 85.6 MBD, the U.S. by itself consumes 22% of the world's oil supply.

You may have noticed in the above chart that the EIA lists both "crude oil production" and "total oil production" in the U.S. Crude oil production is 5.36 MBD, a number that has remained stable for the past few years. The EIA also has a chart that lists oil production by region and state. The data contain all sorts of interesting tidbits -- for example, crude oil production in North Dakota has risen from 85,000 barrels a day in 2004 to 218,000 barrels a day in 2009. California still produces 567,000 barrels a day, and Texas pumps 1.1 million barrels day, about the same amount the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia.

The EIA states that total U.S. production is 9.14 MBD, considerably more than the 5.36 MBD listed for crude oil alone. What's the source of the discrepancy? The EIA lists other sources, such as "Natural gas plant liquids."

Geopolitical Diversity

So where does the U.S. get the 9.67 million barrels a day of oil we import? It turns out our biggest suppliers are North American neighbors.

From:
OPEC: 4.67 MBD
The Persian Gulf: 1.67
Non-OPEC: 5

From:
Canada: 2 MBD
Mexico: 1.2
Saudi Arabia: 1
Nigeria: 1
Venezuela: 0.82
Iraq: 0.33
Angola: 0.30
Brazil: 0.27

The U.S. imports oil from a geopolitically diverse array of nations: The Persian Gulf, Africa, South America and North America. Interestingly, the U.S. draws relatively little oil from the world's top producer, Russia.

The silver lining, if there is one, in the trend toward higher oil prices is that America obtains a modest percentage of its imported oil imports from countries, such as Libya, experiencing political turmoil and instability. However, the U.S. relies on other nations for more than half its oil supplies, a potentially unstable dependence in an increasingly unstable world.
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