After just spending a good while researching where American oil comes from, there is much less information available than one may have had initially expected. Of course major gas and oil companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron/Texaco do not publish in great detail all the sources of their oil. This is why institutions like the US Department of Energy (DOE) have trouble at times producing lucid and accurate reports on the status of US and world oil. The only people who really know with a credible degree of accuracy how much oil there is to sell, exactly where it is coming from, and how much it is going to end up costing people in the near future are the oil companies themselves – and they’re not telling.

That said, there has been an email circling around which is neither entirely corroborated nor entirely discredited. This is because when information, such as where companies get their oil from, surfaces, it is because of a leak, which by nature cannot be supported. On the other hand, people claim that false figures are said to be leaked because people with political agendas want to persuade people to take up their cause. Regardless, the intention here is just to get to the figures and let people think of them what they will.

According to this email the information for which leading US oil companies get their crude oil from the Middle East and how much is as follows:

Shell……………………… 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco……… 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil…………… 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway… 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco……………………….62,231,000 barrels
Citgo gas is from South America.

An article on cites similar statistics about how much oil comes from the Middle East and from which US companies:

Shell purchased 3,611,000 barrels from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
BP purchased none from the Middle East.
Chevron purchased 14,724,000 from the Middle East.
Citgo-None from the Middle East.
Amoco purchased 3,611,000 barrels from the Middle East.
Exxon-Mobil combined purchased 13,273,000 barrels from the Middle East.
Marathon purchased 10,710,000 in Middle Eastern oil.
Sunoco purchased none from the Middle East.
Conoco purchased 523,000 from the Middle East.
Sinclair-We didn’t find any figures.
Phillips-We didn’t find any Middle Eastern purchases.

TruthorFiction claims “We were able to secure the statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy for various oil companies for calendar Year 2000.” Whether this statement itself can be corroborated is another story. Nevertheless, information is scant. So take it as you will.

Information, at least by company, other than from the Middle East is even scarcer. The only reason there is some on Middle East imports is because it is such a sensitive issue for Americans because of the said links to terrorism. Since people care so much about this issue there is real incentive to find the facts.

On the other hand, it was easy to find the top 15 imports by country on the US DOE website. What would you guess is the number 1 importing nation for US oil? Venezuela? No. Saudi Arabia? No. Iraq? No. In fact it is Canada. Surprised? Most people are because it is rare that Canada is mentioned on the news in this respect, or is brought up in current energy talks. The truth is we’d be in a very precarious energy situation without Canada’s oil.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) (the USG energy stat site), Canada imported 2.346 million barrels per day in May of 2008. Yet, this is false. It is kind of comical that one of the only reliable resources for US energy info has made an important typo. The 2.346 number quoted from Canada is really thousands per day, not millions. This can be gleaned from the following sentence: Canada remained the largest exporter of total petroleum in May, exporting 2.346 million barrels per day to the United States, which is a decrease from last month (2.534 thousand barrels per day). Obviously this statement makes no sense unless the figures are either both millions or both thousands, and since the chart right under it labels the figures in Thousand Barrels per Day), it seems the USG meant thousands.

Who’s second? Venezuela? Nigeria? Mexico? No. It’s Saudi Arabia. The Saudis brought in 1,579 thousand barrels of crude oil per day in May 2008. This is significantly less than Canada, and after these two oil behemoths, the numbers start to drop of even further, with Mexico at 1,118, Venezuela at 1,030, Nigeria at 851, and Iraq at 583 thousand barrels of crude oil imported per day.2 To see the full chart of the top 15 crude oil importers.

What can one take away from all of this information?

Well, last updated in July of 2008, the US used approximately 20,680,000 barrels of petroleum per day. Now, if they import about 12,036,000 per day according to the EIA, this means that about 8.6 millions barrels of oil per day come from domestic sources. This split is not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. It is common in American public opinion to believe that the majority of the oil we use is coming from Saudi Arabia or some foreign nation.

Furthermore, it is common belief that the US is helplessly tied to tyrannical and nefarious nations to fulfill its deep oil needs. This is proclaimed to be greatest contributing factor to America’s downfall. This is quite untrue as you can see. For which countries out of the top five importers have been proven to harbor terrorism? Only Saudi Arabia, and only proven in a few cases. Not Mexico, or Canada or Venezuela. And moreover, which countries out of the top 15 importers are on the US State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism? The answer is zero – none.4We do not import oil in any significant amount from the states we have labeled to sponsor terrorism.

So next time someone is fearmongering about US funding terrorism or losing its power around the world as a result of its crude oil addiction, you can tell them that’s not quite right. This does notmean we shouldn’t be focused on weaning ourselves off of oil entirely, but that is another matter to be discussed in another article.

Featured Article Footnotes




US Oil Company Level Imports Raw Data

Energy Information Administration Homepage

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