Occasionally, I get the impression there is some confusion about where our oil actually comes from. Many people seem to think we have a pipeline to the Persian Gulf (The "Middle East") and that we get all of our oil from there. It might surprise these folks to learn that the "Middle East" supplies us with less than 10 percent of our oil. Rather than discuss random numbers, I decided to look at the actual figures for one month - October 2009. A companion piece to this will take numbers from the same month to show where it all went. All of the figures are from the EIA (Energy Information Agency).
It is important to remember we import not only Crude Oil, but other petroleum products. The numbers here for imports do not separate the two.In October of 2009 the Total US Domestic Petroleum usage (Crude oil, products, and going to stockpiles) was 504,607,000 barrels.
That works out to 16,277,000 barrels per day. Each Barrel is 42 gallons. Of course we don't actually USE barrels to ship oil, but the nomenclature remains.
Of that amount, 44% of it came from our own country. Note that while Alaska used to supply a lot of our domestic oil, the amount has been getting less each year. It now amounts to a small fraction. Most of our domestic oil comes from hundreds of small producers around the country. The US is unique in allowing private persons to own Oil rights. In most countries, oil belongs to the Government! See the bottom of this post for further info on that.
One thing to note is the production from Alaska. While Texas has historically been the largest US producer of oil, through the 1980's Alaska rivaled them. The Alaskan North Slope fields, beginning in 1977, had a peak production during the 80's of nearly 2 million barrels of oil a day. In 1980, that was a major portion of our production and consumption. Since that time, however, the production has fallen rapidly as the Alaskan Slope oil fields are depleted. Today, they are producing about 600,000 barrels a day, 12% of our domestic production.
There is also some confusion about OPEC. Many people equate OPEC with "Middle East" or Persian Gulf. In fact, while most Persian Gulf countries are members of OPEC, there are many OPEC members who are NOT in the Middle East. Two of our largest suppliers - Venezuela and Nigeria, are members of OPEC, but they are not in the Persian Gulf Area.
OK, I will stop talking. Here are the numbers……(These are for the ENTIRE month of October!) These number include both Crude Oil, and a smaller amount of petroleum products imported.Total domestic production for Oct 2009: 168,069,000 barrels
- Alaskan Oil: 20,401,000 bbl
- Lower 48: 147,668,000 bbl
Total Crude oil and PRODUCT imports for Oct 2009: 336,538,000 barrels
- OPEC: 142,017,000 bbl
- NON-OPEC: 194,521,000 bbl
- Saudi Arabia: 29,233,000 bbl
- Iraq: 15,458,000 bbl
- Other small Persian Gulf Countries: 3,214,000 bbl
- 9.4% of the total oil we used came from the Persian Gulf - 14% of our total imports.
- 90.6% of the oil we used came from places NOT in the Persian Gulf - 86% of our total imports.
- 28% of our total oil came from OPEC countries - 42% of our total imports.
- 72% of our total oil came from NON-OPEC sources (including the US) - 58% of our total imports.
Of course we import oil from dozens of countries. Many supply only a small fraction of our use. We saw the numbers for the Persian Gulf above. Below are listed some select suppliers from other parts of the world.Other selected Countries amounts for Oct 2009
- Canada: 73,162,000 bbl
- Mexico: 35,211,000 bbl
- Venezuela: 29,619,000 bbl
- Nigeria: 26,927,000 bbl
- Russia: 11,945,000 bbl
- Columbia: 9,065,000 bbl
- Brazil: 5,395,000 bbl
I think the most significant thing to note from this list is the amount of oil we get from Canada and Mexico - 108,373,000 bbls. Our neighbors supply us with 32% (1/3) of all our imports. The other thing to note is Venezuela. That country, who is not real friendly with us (but who likes to sell oil) supplies us with just as much of our oil as Saudi Arabia. Interesting tidbit. CITGO is Venezuela-owned and US Incorporated. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citgo).Now, that note about US ownership of Oil Rights.
In most major oil producing countries, the government owns the rights to Oil resources. The US is nearly unique in allowing private ownership of resource rights. Private landowners contract with producing companies, and the entire deal is between the landowner, and the producer. Most producing companies compensate the landowner with royalties on each barrel of oil produced. The only place the government gets involved at all is restrictions for well spacing, and environmental standards.
This situation gives rise to thousands of independent producers, as well as the existence of "Stripper wells" which produce less than 10 barrels a day. According to EIA, these stripper wells account for nearly 75% of all wells in the US. They currently produce about 900,000 barrels a day, or 27,000,000 per month. This is about 16% of total US oil production. You may know someone with one of these wells on their property.
Finally, Because the United States is the world's largest importer, it is far too easy to forget that the US:
- is the oldest major global oil producer - and the first.
- is formerly the Number 1 global oil producer;
- is currently the Number 2 global oil producer;
- has produced more oil, cumulatively, than any other country (180 billion barrels from 1918 to 1999);
- has produced more oil, cumulatively, than the current reserves of any country but Saudi Arabia.
The below data is taken directly from EIA (Energy Information Agency) reports. It is the AVERAGE number of barrels (in thousands per day) imported from the top 10 sources. This list accounts for 85% of all crude oil imported to the US.
The full import table is here: