EIA: US oil imports down, but share of top three suppliers highest in 4 decades

Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico have consistently been the three largest crude oil suppliers to the US, and while total US net oil imports fell in 2013, the share of imports from these three countries was the highest in at least 4 decades, according to preliminary annual trade data from the US Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report.

Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico have consistently been the three largest crude oil suppliers to the US, and while total US net oil imports fell in 2013, the share of imports from these three countries was the highest in at least 4 decades, according to preliminary annual trade data from the US Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report.

In 2013, combined net oil imports from Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico decreased 1.5% from a year before. This compares with a 10.2% decline in total US net crude oil imports. As a result, the overall decline in US net imports has led to an increasing concentration of net imports from Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico.

“The 4.6 million b/d of oil supplied by these three countries accounted for 61% of total US net oil imports in 2013, up from 55% the year before and their biggest share since at least 1973,” EIA said.

These countries generally produce medium to heavy, sour crude oil that is desirable to US refineries, while increasing production from US tight oil formations is typically of the light sweet quality. Also, Canada and Mexico are near the US, with Mexico having a short shipping distance for its oil to the large number of refineries along the US Gulf Coast.

Other highlights from the top three sources for US crude oil imports in 2013 include:

• Crude oil imports from Canada averaged a record 2.5 million b/d, up 3.9% from 2012. Canada has few other outlets for Alberta’s rising heavy crude oil production, so most of it is exported to the US.

• Crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia averaged 1.3 million b/d, down 2.6%, but still the second-highest in 5 years. Through its Motiva Enterprises joint venture, the country’s state oil company is a partial owner of three large US Gulf Coast refineries that it partially supplies with Saudi crude.

• Crude oil imports from Mexico of 850,000 b/d were down 13% and the lowest in more than 20 years, reflecting the continued decline in that country’s oil production. Still, Mexico produces significant amounts of heavy crude that is well-suited to run in US Gulf Coast refineries.

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