BlacknGold: U.S. Dependence on Oil
Four short years ago during the presidential primaries several topics dominated the debates: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, healthcare, and alternative energy. Now in 2012 the Iraq War has officially ended (today actually), the economy is thawing, national healthcare seems to be an afterthought, and alternative energy is trying to hide the black eye named Solyndra. It is still early – too early for presidential anything in my opinion – but the national conversation has yet to shift to alternative energy. The hotter topic will probably be natural gas fracking in Pennsylvania and Texas. However, the mistake that is corn ethanol owes much of its existence to the presidential primaries. If the politically charged phrase “energy independence” is uttered in the coming months will be able to separate the facts from the politics? Here’s a helpful hint: they aren’t talking about solar, wind, or geothermal. They’re talking about 28% of our total energy consumption as a nation. They’re talking about oil.
How dependent is the U.S. on foreign oil?
Is the United States dependent on other countries for transportation fuels? Yes, but think for one second. Would you expect the world’s largest consumer of oil to be independent? Well, we can all hope that day will come. While we are waiting let’s consider some hard numbers and see if it is really as gloomy as we are led to believe.
In 2010 the United States consumed crude oil at a clip of 19.1 million barrels per day (MMbd) – more than any country in the world. Everyone knows that, but brace yourself. We were third in production with 5.5 MMbd with net imports of 9.4 MMbd, or 49.2% of consumption. Therefore, the United States provided 50.8% of its liquid fuels from domestic production. Given all the gloom and doom, fire and brimstone talk surrounding our oil dependence I am willing to bet some of you are a little surprised. Best part? We aren’t done yet.
Approximately 49% of all imported crude oil (11.8 MMbd) originated in the Western Hemisphere. Only 18% was pumped from the sands of the Persian Gulf. The 2010 top five:
Saudi Arabia (12%)
Coming Back to Earth
Now, before you go and shower in the stuff because you think the United States is “just fine”, let’s consider some sobering realities. The financial fiasco of 2009 resulted in the lowest consumption totals of energy for the United States since 1995 and the lowest consumption of transportation fuels since 2002. The year of 2010 was on par with 2003-2004 – quite a considerable drop given the momentum behind fuel consumption patterns. Unfortunately, the world will likely never see such low consumption again. Although this writing is not focused on the cost of crude oil, dwindling world reserves coupled with a roaring China and India will push prices higher. There are not any easily accessible or economical oil fields left to find.
The discussion about fuels and crude oil cannot take place without serious consideration of peak oil, crude oil prices, biofuels, and other macro and micro movements. These topics and more will be given the time they deserve in future posts. Leave comments, feedback, and questions below. Fool on!
These statistics were provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.