Every now and again, when elections, terrorism, or an ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge) vote make their way to the top of the news heap, a brief flurry of outcry ensues about the need for American “energy independence” and for strategies to eliminate the “dependence” of America on foreign oil. One of the biggest myths about this is that ANWR will somehow magically serve as a panacea for decades, reducing the need for the US to import any oil. Unfortunately, the numbers behind this dream don’t add up. Over the next few “non-personal” entries, I’m going to further explore some basic research I did in to the US and its relationship with oil consumption.
The following statistics were taken from the US Department of Energy’s web site.Detailed country links will follow at the end.
Before I can illustrate how little drilling in ANWR is likely to accomplish, and how the world might look to solve the oil problem, it is first necessary to provide some details of oil consumption in the US. According to the DOE,
The United States is estimated to be consuming an average of about 19.7 MMBD of oil in 2002. Of this, 8.9 MMBD (or 45% of the total) is motor gasoline, 4.8 MMBD (24%) “other oils,” 3.8 MMBD (19%) distillate fuel oil, 1.7 MMBD (8%) jet fuel, and 0.7 million bbl/d (3%) residual fuel oil. U.S. oil demand is expected to increase by about 3% (670,000 bbl/d) in 2003.
The US consumes nearly 20 million barrels of oil per day, with nearly half of that as motor gasoline for cars and trucks. Filling up the old SUV at $1.53/gallon contributes heavily to the bottom line of oil consuption in the US. But this isn’t a complete picture. Now we need to take a look at where we’re getting that oil.
The United States averaged total gross oil (crude and products) imports of an estimated 11.2 MMBD during the first nine months of 2002,representing around 57% of total U.S. oil demand. Around two-fifths of this oil came from OPEC nations, with Persian Gulf sources accounting for about one-fifth of total U.S. oil imports. Overall, the top suppliers of oil to the United States during the first nine months of 2002 were Canada (1.9 MMBD), Saudi Arabia (1.5 MMBD), Mexico (1.5 MMBD), and Venezuela (1.4 MMBD).
So, not only does the US consume 8.9 MMBD for gasonline, but in the first 9 months of 2002, we imported 11.2 MMBD. And of the imports, 20%, or about 2.25 MMBD, came from the Middle East. Imagine, if we could double our fuel efficiency for vehicles that use motor oil, we could cut our imports drastically.
Remember, today there exists an global market for oil, where contracts are traded about. Therefore, supply and demand changes in one place affect the price paid in all places. As we will see, this can be a double-edged sword.