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

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.

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.

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

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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everyone calm down...............

our neighbors above have an easy hundred year supply for us..........


September 11 2014 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iran Contra

According to the US Dept of Interior proven oil reserves are 21 billion barrels. If we only use domestic supply at current consumption that gives us 3 years only. The USGS says our onshore unproven estimated reserves are 48 billion barrels (Alaska and arctic about 20 of this). If we can access this relatively quickly then at current consumption (18.8 million barrels/day) this will give us another 7 years only. If you add to this what they say are offshore unproven but should be technically recoverable oil this total goes up to 134 billion barrels or about 20 years only. That is if consumption remains the same as today (the last few years it is down 2mb/day). In twenty years time we will likely have 50 million more people and their demand to contend with making conservation that much more important. Needless to say based on the above it does seem apparent that using only domestic supply appears difficult to say the least. Then the problem becomes how long will the world oil reserves last in the face of ever increasing oil consumption by many other countries. Many people are estimating that if consumption does not decrease we will see the end of oil by 2050.

March 30 2012 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The RICH get RICHER!! It makes me sick!!

April 28 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

revisit WWII one of Germany's biggest problems, They ran out of gas. Their tanks couldn't move. It was what turned the war around. Wouldn't it be prudent to keep ours in the ground and use theirs?

March 29 2011 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Get a toyota that gets 50mpg or a camero that gets 19mpg,your choice stupid, but than again you don't want healthcare because you can't understand such a big bill, learn to read. Enjoy your dinner of beans in a can.

March 03 2011 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

DRILL IN THE U.S..... For job and better prices. DA!

March 02 2011 at 3:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

We skate on thin ice.

March 01 2011 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's not just about the dollar...it's more about control. He who holds the oil rules the world.(in the end). America keeps it's oil and gets more elsewhere. In the end--who ends up needing who?

March 01 2011 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish I could be as optimistic and as upbeat as this news is about Oil. For the past number of years we have had it beat into our heads that we only consume the most oil in the world! NEVER has it been said WE ARE STILL PRODUCING any DOMESTIC oil. Why can't we increase the production of OUR DOMESTIC OIL !? I feel this would create jobs AND cut our dependence on foreign oil imports. Also help keep the dollar here in America.

March 01 2011 at 4:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

History has it that when ever OIL reaches high levels that triggers a recession- so we are already in a recession, so that means a double dip is not so far away from us!!!

March 01 2011 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply