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U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

One of the constant political refrains in the both any President’s annual State of the Union address and candidate’s speeches is the need to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Frequently, the political message is that the United States is especially beholden to OPEC nations, most of which are in the Middle East.

U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

In reality, the United States currently imports about 40% of the total amount of petroleum it consumes on an annual basis. The peak year for U.S. dependence on foreign oil was in 2005, with that number declining steadily since. In 2012, the United States consumed 18.6 million barrels of petroleum each day, importing about 11 million barrels and exporting 3.2 million barrels.

The single largest foreign source of petroleum for the United States is Canada. Only about 29% of the imported crude oil into the U.S. comes from the Persian Gulf/Middle East region. The top five sources of U.S. crude oil are Canada (28%), Saudi Arabia (13%), Mexico (10%), Venezuela (9%), and Russia (5%).

There are several reasons why U.S. dependence on foreign oil has decreased since 2005, including changes in consumer behavior, efficiency improvements, and the global economic downturn of 2008, which decreased demand. Additionally, the growth of domestic biofuels and increased domestic natural gas supplies has contributed to the decrease.

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