The U.S.’s imports of crude oil and petroleum products have been on the decline since hitting a peak of 14.7 million barrels a day in August 2006. In December last year, they fell below 10 million barrels a day for the first time since March 1997.
This reflects a fall in U.S. consumption, from 21.4 million barrels a day to 18.1 million barrels a day over the same period. Peak monthly consumption was in August 2005 at 21.7 million barrels a day; less demand in a sluggish economy and more efficient energy use is behind the fall.
Whether this constitutes America weaning itself off its “dependence on foreign oil” is moot. America was importing two thirds of its oil in the mid-2000s, the peak share recorded since the 1970s oil crisis, when the ratio was barely one-third. Last year, the ratio was 57.1%, down from 2006’s 66.3%.
What is incontrovertible is the U.S.’s growing dependence on Canada for its foreign oil. Canada, not Saudi Arabia or any other OPEC nation, is the U.S.’s leading supplier. Imports from its northern neighbor accounted for only one barrel in twelve of the U.S.’s imported crude oil and petroleum products in 1976. Their share has climbed steadily since. Last year they accounted for more than one barrel in four.