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"Where (Do U.S.) Oil Imports Come From?"

With gas prices bouncing on both sides of $3.00 a gallon recently, politicians of both stripes talk about “energy independence.” As Ray Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council, writes, that it is nothing but a:

“bit of political hyperbole (that) seems focused on pandering to certain voters on such topics as trade, energy prices and, in particular, the war against terrorists (including in Iraq) and the general state of affairs in the Middle East. The underlying assumption seems to be that all of our oil comes from OPEC members in the Middle East.”

So what are the facts? Based upon data from the U.S.Energy Information Administration, Keating says the U.S. produces 5.1 million barrels (34%) of crude oil per day while importing 10.1 barrels (66%) per day. The top five countries we import from on a daily basis are:

  • Canada - 1.8 million barrels
  • Mexico - 1.6 million barrels
  • Saudi Arabia - 1.4 million barrels
  • Venezuela - 1.1 million barrels
  • Nigeria - 1.0 million barrels

In total, he says 79% of all imported crude oil came from non-Middle East OPEC countries in 2006. Keating concludes by writing that energy independence requires:

“two things on the policy front. First, remove governmental restrictions on domestic energy exploration, development and production. Second, allow for free trade so that U.S. consumers and businesses are able to meet their energy needs in the international marketplace.”

The next time you hear a politician talking about “energy independence,” ask her or him what they mean by “energy independence,” how they plan to achieve it, and how likely it is that America will achieve energy independence? The answers should tell you a lot.

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