Facts and Myths around US Oil Import
I read hundreds of articles about US presence in Iraq and most of them argues with oil as a primary driver of US Economy. Moreover, they also highlight the importance of Persian Gulf as a primary source of US oil and energy resources. These notion is extremely popular in Indian subcontinent and Middle-East, where people love to discuss sans any facts. However, digging deeper in facts quickly dismisses that big a role of oil in modern day United States.
If we briefly look at oil import trends of United States, we can definitely observe a downward trend in oil import for last six years. In year 2010, US imported almost same amount of oil as they did in 2001. From the peaks of 2005, its down by about 12%. US oil imports are actually going down. (source)
Let’s go over the other myths -
1. US imports most of its oil from Persian Gulf and US imports more from OPEC countries.
Clearly wrong. US imports around 15% of oil from Persian Gulf and about 40% from OPEC.
2. US imports a lot of oil from Saudi because of the kingdom’s closeness with USA.
US is steadily increasing imports from Canada over Saudi and in 2010, US imported 2.5 times of that it imported from Saudi. The tar-sands oil in Canada made them the owner of second largest oil reserve after Saudi and United States is making full use of it.
This is the detailed break up of US oil sources -
The last but not the least – it’s always assumed that US will remain the largest net oil importer of the World. However, Shale Gas is turning that tide. A very optimistic article (and another one)on Shale Gas discovery and its impacts terms this as “energy revolution”. The days might not be far ahead, when US might not import from outside of the continent at all.
A good read – Swami Aiyar’s blog