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U.S. Oil Imports Continue to Decline

New EIA data shows that U.S. oil imports continued to decline in 2013 as domestic production increased. The U.S. is now importing less oil than at any time since the 1996. Net crude oil imports declined by 10.2% between 2012 and 2013, down to 7.6 million barrels per day.

At the same time, EIA data shows that of the oil that the U.S. does import, a greater share of it is coming from three countries. The top three suppliers of crude oil to the United States are Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. And while total oil imports dropped off in 2013 from the year before, imports from all other nations declined by much more than they did from the top three. The EIA found that Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico are now supplying three out of every five barrels of oil imported into the U.S.

Taken together, these three countries accounted for 61% of total U.S. oil imports in 2013, an increase from the 55% share they held in 2012. It is also the largest concentration since 1973.

Canada in particular has stepped up exports to the U.S. while just about every other nation saw their U.S. purchases decline. Production from western Canada’s oil sands provinces has rapidly increased over the last several years, and obviously, Canada’s proximity to the U.S. is a major factor. But Canada also produces heavy, sour type of oil that works well with U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, U.S. tight oil tends to be of the sweeter variety, which has allowed the U.S. to displace other imports from Nigeria, for example, which produces a similar quality and type of oil.

Saudi Arabia’s oil supplies to the U.S. have declined a bit, but still remain high. Mexico has seen its overall production decline over the last decade, and thus, its exports to the U.S. are at their lowest level in more than 20 years. Still, as a neighbor to the U.S., it is still is a major supplier.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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