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January 16th, 2013:

Falling U.S. Oil Imports Will Reshape the World Crude Market

American Energy Coalition - January 16th, 2013

By 2014, the U.S. will import just 6 million barrels of crude oil per day, or roughly a third of what it uses, according to a recent report by Businessweek. That's less than half the amount of 2006, when imports accounted for 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption.

America's domestic oil boom is revamping decades' worth of established trading patterns, Businessweek reports. "As the U.S. continues to ramp up production — which grew at the fastest pace ever last year — the imports that do continue coming into the U.S. will depend as much on what type of oil it is as on how far it must travel.

For those reasons, Canada will remain America's biggest oil supplier. Not only is Canada close, and can pipe its oil over the border, but its heavy, sour crude is exactly what U.S. refiners want, according to Businessweek.

Before the oil boom hit a few years ago, "it seemed that the future belonged to heavy, sour crude like the stuff in western Canada's oil sands, while the light, sweet variety would become increasingly dear," Businessweek wrote. "U.S. refiners spent billions installing new coking equipment to increase their ability to process this gunky, sulfury type of oil into gasoline. The irony is that by the time many of these projects were completed, the U.S. was suddenly awash in light, sweet crude gushing out of shale formations in North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. There are now more than 50 million barrels of oil — most of it the light, sweet kind — stuck in the storage facilities outside Cushing, Okla."

A new study from energy research firm IHS CERA predicts that the U.S. will remain the primary market for oil sands. "Suddenly oil from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela will be competing against the cheaper Canadian product," Businessweek wrote. 

This also means a steep drop in oil from Africa, mainly from OPEC's biggest West African members, Nigeria and Angola, Businessweek wrote. "Since July 2010, the U.S. has cut its Nigerian imports by half, from more than 1 million barrels a day, to 543,000 as of October 2012, the most recent data available through the Energy Information Administration," the article states.

To read the Businessweek article, click here.

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