After lurking around the JREF forums for the better part of two months, I could no longer resist and simply had to join in. With that brief introduction out of the way, on to my first post here...
Originally Posted by Mike Stephens
I think it might be worthwhile to pursue this oil angle a bit more.
Let me ask you, Mike, a couple of questions. In the years 2001 and 2006, what would you say was the percentage of U.S. crude oil imports which were from the Persian Gulf region? 30%? 40%? 50%? For those same two years, what would you say was the percentage of U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC nations? Lastly, for those same two years, which country would you name as being the single largest supplier of crude oil to the United States? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Iraq?
The answers to these questions may surprise you (Note: all figures following are the official figures from the Energy Information Administration).
In 2001, the percentage of U.S. crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf region (defined here as including the nations Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) was 28.56%. In 2006, that percentage was down to 21.39%. So over the last five years the share of U.S. crude oil imports from that region has actually declined, and by a fair amount.
In 2001, OPEC nations provided some 52% of U.S. crude oil imports, with non-OPEC nations providing the other 48%. In 2006, that situation had reversed: OPEC nations provided 47.4% of crude oil imports while non-OPEC nations provided 52.6%. Thus, the U.S. now imports more crude oil from non-OPEC nations than it does OPEC nations.
In 2001, Saudi Arabia was the single largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S., providing 17.27% of all imports. In 2006, the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S. was Canada. Yes, Canada: it provided 17.66% of all the crude oil imported into the United States that year. Mexico was the second largest supplier of crude oil imports, at 15.61%; Saudi Arabia was in third place at 14.08%. Indeed, Saudi Arabia has been in third place for the last three years.
And what about Iraq you may ask? In 2001, it provided 8.52% of all U.S. crude oil imports; in 2006, it was only providing 5.48%. So over the last five years, Iraq's importance as a source of crude oil to the U.S. has actually declined
Here are the top ten suppliers of crude oil to the U.S. in 2006:
U.S. Crude Oil Imports, 2006
By country and percentage
Saudi Arabia 14.08%
So, Canada supplied over one-sixth
of all U.S. crude oil imports last year. Together with Mexico, nearly one-third
of U.S. crude oil imports came from friendly nations on each side of its borders. Indeed, Canada has been steadily increasing its share of crude oil imported into the U.S. for some years now. Mexico, too, has been increasing its share, though that seems to have levelled off now.
The top five nations supplied 68.96% of all U.S. crude oil imports. The top ten nations account for 87.52% of all imports; the remaining 12.48% came from a total of 38 other countries.
So, putting all this together: given the decreasing importance to the U.S. of Saudi and Persian Gulf crude oil, and given the rise of other nations, particularly Canada, as reliable and secure sources of crude oil to the United States, what significance exactly does the Middle East hold in terms of oil?