Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where in the world does the USA import its oil from?

This article is a follow-up to address a question I posed at the end of the article, Trends in Nigerian Petroleum Production and Consumption.

After considering the USA’s petroleum imports from its top five source countries, I pondered the question: where did the additional ~1-2 bbs/yr petroleum come from for the years 2004-2009 to account for the discrepancy between the USA’s consumption and the USA’s domestic production, plus the imports from its top 5 importers? 

I can now re-phase this question, “from the top 6 importers,” because after considering number six, Russia (see Fig 4 also reproduced below), there is still an about 1.5 bbs/yr discrepancy.

Even after considering the top six petroleum importers and domestic production, I still can not account for about 1.5 bbs/yr worth of petroleum imports into the USA especially in those peak consumption years around 2005-06. 

Where did that petroleum come from?

Since posing this question, I have found a source of information that helps shed some light on where in the world the USA imports its oil from.  The EIA has published a spread sheet entitled, U.S. Total Crude Oil and Products Imports (hereinafter, “Total Imports”). 


“Total Imports” is a massive spreadsheet that presents average US imports (in units of 1000s of barrels per day) of Crude Oil plus Petroleum Products, for the years 1973 to 2009 from about 30 to 90 difference source countries depending on the year being considered.  

It is just what I needed to answer my question.


Top Suppliers of Petroleum Imports to the USA in 2009

One thing I would like to correct, from the start, is a mistaken assumption that I had made about Fig. 5.4 of the Annual Energy Review for 2009 (and its associated Table 5.4).  Here it is one more time:

My mistake was to assume that the EIA was actually showing the top nine countries in their order of importance.  I should have been made more suspicious by the title, “Selected Countries.” 

According to the data presented in “Total Imports,” however, the top 10 countries exporting petroleum to the USA are presented below.

Notice that I have added to Venezuela, the separate entry in “Total Imports,” of imports for the US Virgin Islands (VI).  As already discussed in Trends in Venezuelan Petroleum Production and Consumption, the VI imports substantially all of its oil from Venezuela, and then passes the oil and petroleum products on to the USA.  This would actually put Venezuela + VI ahead of Mexico as the second largest petroleum exporter to the USA in 2009.


I find it curious that Fig. 5.4 of the Annual Energy Review excludes Algeria and Angola but rather includes the UK.  Why would the EIA choose to not feature the imports from Algeria and Angola, which together account for about 8 percent of the total exports, and instead, show imports from the UK, which provided only about 2 percent?  According to “Total Imports,” the UK is only the twelfth largest supplier, behind Columbia at 2.4 percent.   Actually, thirteenth, if I were to consider VI separately (VI would be tied with Columbia at 2.4%). 


Maybe the EIA’s goal was to portray the UK as still an important supplier, or, to suggest (by omitting Algeria and Angola) that petroleum from Iraq or Brazil are relatively more important than they actually are. 

The values in parenthesis above the bars in Figure 1 show each country’s the exports to the USA as reported in “Total Imports,” after conversion of 1000s of barrels per day into units of bbs/yr.  The sum of the imports from these ten countries (or 11, if you wanted to count VI separately) equals about 78% of the USA’s imports for 2009 or about 3.3 bbs/yr.  Added to my USA production for 2009 (2.6 bbs/yr; from the solid blue data point at 2009 in Fig. 4, from Trends in Russian Petroleum Production and Consumption, reproduced above) gives about 5.9 bbs/yr or about 80 percent of my estimate of USA’s consumption for 2009 (7.4 bbs/yr; from the solid red line in Fig. 4 above), or, about 87 percent of the reported consumption (6.8 bbs/yr; from the red data point in Fig. 4 for 2009).

To account for a larger portion of US imports, I considered all the countries in “Total Imports,” that contributed at least about 1 percent to the total US imports for 2009.  I ended up with sixteen countries (Norway contributed only 0.92 percent, but I accepted this as about 1 percent) shown in Figure 2 below:

The sum of the imports from these sixteen countries equals about 88% of the USA’s imports for 2009,  about 3.7 bbs/yr.  Added to USA estimated production for 2009 (2.6 bbs/yr) gives about 6.3 bbs/yr or about 85 percent of my estimated consumption for 2009 (7.4 bbs/yr), or, about 93 percent of the reported consumption (6.8 bbs/yr).

To account for the remaining 12% of the USA’s imports, I would have to “scrape lower into the barrel” of importers so to speak.  According to “Total Imports,” there were 82 countries that made a "non-zero" contribution to the USA’s imports in 2009, which for the purposes of the spread sheet was at least 1000 barrels/day. 

The sum from all 82 countries equaled 4.3 bbl/yr which added to US production of 2.6 bbl/yr gives 6.9 bbl/yr which is just slightly higher than the reported consumption of 6.8 bbl/yr.  Perhaps the discrepancy is a rounding error, or, because the 6.8 bbl/yr value is from the BP Statistical Review, while the 6.9 bbl/yr is from the EIA’s “Total Imports.” 

Thirty-three countries each contributed from 0.1 to 0.9 percent of USA’s total imports.  These countries, 17 through 50, in total contributed about 11 percent of the USA's imports.  The top five among this group are Equatorial Guinea (0.76%); Trinidad & Tobago (0.72%); Libya (0.68%); Azerbaijan (0.64%) and Chad (0.59%).  The remaining thirty-one countries (e.g., countries like Japan, Qatar, China, Egypt, Malaysia etc...) each contributed less than 0.1 percent of USA's imports, and in total contributed about 1% of the USA's imports.

Historic Petroleum Imports to the USA from the Top Importers of 2009
Figure 3 shows how well these top 10, or top 16, import source countries account for USA’s imports in the past.  Figure 3 is a variation on Figure 4, which still shows production and consumption data from the USA and my best fits, but replaces the export data derived from BP statistical review, and my NLLS analysis of this data, with the import data presented in “Total Imports.” 

Also shown is the additional contribution from the remaining countries 17-81 (with VI’s exports combined with Venezuelan).  

Figure 4 casts the data shown in Figure 3 in percentage terms.  That is, for each year, USA reported production plus the imports from the top 10 importers for 2009 (i.e., the countries shown in Fig.2), the top 16 importer for 2009 (i.e., the countries shown in Fig. 3), and all of the importers (i.e. at least 1000 b/d) for the year in question are shown as a percentage relative to reported consumption for the year in question.

For the entire 36 year period, USA production plus the top 10 importer from 2009, on average, accounted for 85.8±2.5 percent of USA consumption.  USA production plus the top 16 importers from 2009, on average accounted 90.3± 3.3 percent of USA consumption.  Considering only the 28 year time span from 1981 on, to exclude the dip centered at 1978, did not substantially change these averages (86.4±2.2 and 91.8±1.1, respectively).

That dip centered at 1978 is due the fact that, back then, there were significant sources of imports from a number countries that are not among the top 10 or top 16 providers in 2009, as illustrated in Figure 5 below:

Figure 5 considers all of the countries in 1978 that contributed at least about 1% to the USA’s total imports in that year.  As before, I combined the contributions from Venezuela and VI (8% and 5.3% respectively).  I might well have also added to Venezuela the petroleum from other Caribbean countries like Netherland Antilles, Bahamas and Puerto Rico (Trinidad & Tobago produces much of its own oil) but I couldn’t verify that, like VI, they were importing from Venezuela and then re-exporting to the USA.  

USA imports from Iran ended in 1979 after the Iranian-hostage taking incident and imports from Libya ended in 1982 after the USA declared an import/export ban.  As indicated above, since about 2005, after then ban was lifted, Libya has been making a come back as an important import source.  Substantial imports from Indonesia continued for another decade, but by the mid-1990s was less than 1%. and continued declining  Petroleum from the UAE dipped below 1% after 1980. 

Using the top 10 importers to predict USA consumption
Not withstanding the discrepancy in late 1970s, the sum of USA production plus the imports from the top 10 importers for 2009 accounts for a fairly constant 86 percent of USA consumption for a plus-three decade period of time.  This suggests that these data would be useful for predicting the USA’s consumption going forward.

For instance, consider Figure 6 below, which presents the same USA production and consumption data as shown in Figure 3:
Additionally, I have shown the sum of USA production plus the imports from the top 10 import sources (dashed green line) and this sum divided by 0.86 (solid green).  With the exception of the late 1970s, the solid green line tracks the reported USA consumption data pretty well.

This analysis gives me some assurance that by just considering and predicting USA production and imports from the top 10 importers, I can make a reasonably accurate prediction of USA consumption going forward. 

Now, I just need to finish the analysis for the remaining top 10: Algeria, Angola, Iraq and Brazil!

Next stop...Algeria. 

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