US Economy
US oil imports from OPEC cartel at 30-year low
By Finfacts Team
Nov 24, 2014 - 1:32 AM

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January Brent, the global oil benchmark, is at $80.80 a barrel Monday, 28% below its June 12th peak and US oil imports from the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) producer cartel, are at a 30-year low of  40% of the total imports compared with 88% in 1976.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has developed an online tool to analyse oil imports and the Financial Times says that the impact of the US shale boom on OPEC members has varied, with African countries such as Algeria and Libya being hit the hardest while Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have remained fairly strong.

Nigeria, which produces crude similar to the quality pumped out of North Dakota’s oilfields, has been the biggest victim of the US shale boom. Barrels stopped flowing altogether in July, having reached a 1979 peak of 1.37m b/d.

The EIA says combined production of crude oil and lease condensate, show a rise from 5.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2011 to 7.5 million bbl/d in 2013. EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) projects continuing rapid production growth in 2014 and 2015, with forecast production in 2015 averaging 9.4 million bbl/d.

In 1970, the United States produced 10 million barrels of oil per day and the peak in production will likely happen again in the next decade.

The EIA also released a report containing sample applications of the new tool. The sample applications were selected to illustrate the tool's capabilities to access information from EIA's monthly company-level import database for different time periods, regions, companies, and crude oil qualities. Selected insights include changes in the following trends:

  • Volume and quality of US crude oil imports. US crude oil imports have declined since 2010, with nearly the entire decline occurring in light sweet grades. Through August 2014, US light crude imports have fallen 71% compared to the level in 2010.
  • Source of US crude oil imports. Imports of light crude from Africa, particularly from Nigeria and Algeria, have declined by 93% since 2010.
  • Light crude oil imports by region. The largest decline in crude oil imports occurred on the Gulf Coast (Petroleum Administration for Defense District, or PADD, 3), which were down 94% since 2010. Light crude oil imports by East Coast (PADD 1) refiners were down 69%, reflecting both their increased use of domestic crudes and modestly lower refinery runs.
  • Refinery-level trends in light crude imports. Imports by the 10 largest refineries using imported light crude in 2013 accounted for 55% of total US light crude imports, with the remaining 45% distributed among more than 100 other refineries. The largest source for light crude imports among this group of 10 refineries was Canada, followed by Nigeria and Mexico.
  • Refinery-level trends in imports other than light sweet crude. There is evidence that some refineries have recently reduced imports of medium and heavy grades of crude oil to increasing production of domestic light oil. Other refiners have made changes in processing equipment to accommodate heavier crudes and have increased their imports of heavier crudes.

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