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The OPEC+ production cuts, lower overall oil demand, and declining demand for foreign-sourced lighter crudes resulted in 2020 in the lowest annual American crude oil imports from OPEC in data going back to 1973, the Energy Information Administration’s ‘This Week in Petroleum’ note showed.
Last year, U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC producers averaged just 816,000 barrels per day (bpd), the EIA has estimated. The OPEC+ production cuts and the deliberate efforts from Saudi Arabia to reduce shipments to the most transparent market, the United States, played a role in last year’s record-low American oil imports from OPEC.
The other key reason was that the surging U.S. oil production in recent years—which made America the world’s top oil producer—was mostly of light and medium grades, so demand for such grades from OPEC or elsewhere in the world has significantly dropped since 2005.
While oil imports from OPEC hit the lowest on record, U.S. purchases of Canada’s heavy crude have grown and continue to remain high, the EIA data showed.
American imports from non-OPEC members, especially from Canada, have remained relatively high despite soaring domestic oil output, because of the heavy variety of Canada’s oil which the U.S. shale patch doesn’t produce.
Between 2005 and 2020, U.S. crude oil imports from Canada more than doubled to an average of 3.6 million bpd. As a result, Canada’s share of total U.S. crude oil imports increased and reached a record-high share of 61 percent last year, the EIA said.
“The comparatively stable U.S. crude oil imports from Canada are mostly the result of longer-term trends in Canada’s crude oil production and refining economics,” the EIA said.
Total American crude oil imports have dropped by 42 percent since their peak in 2005, and averaged 5.9 million bpd in 2020, the lowest level since 1991, according to EIA’s data.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.