Animation: Oil Imports to the U.S. Have Shifted Dramatically Over 15 Years
While green energy is making inroads particularly at the electrical grid, the majority of energy in the United States is still consumed by the industrial and transportation sectors. Today, it’s still true that about 90% of all energy used for transportation comes from petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.
This means that oil is the undeniable 800-pound gorilla in the energy mix for now, and that’s why it still accounts for 35% of all energy consumed in the United States.
Throughout the last 50 years, America’s heavy dependence on oil has always created unique political and economic pressures, especially when that oil couldn’t be produced domestically. As we witnessed in the 1970s, untimely oil price shocks can rattle an entire economy, and control over oil production ultimately translated into leverage for foreign organizations like OPEC, and countries such as Venezuela, Iran, or Saudi Arabia.
Oil independence is something that almost all U.S. politicians can get behind. It means more domestic job growth, and diminishing influence for foreign oil producers. Propelled by technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling, the U.S. has been edging towards this goal. Since 2008, U.S. crude oil production has grown from five million to near nine million barrels per day. Now, the U.S. is again the world’s biggest producer.
However, as today’s animated graphic from HowMuch.net shows us, there is another significant change that has occurred recently, and it has more to do with where the remaining foreign oil comes from. In particular, oil imports are shifting from the sands of Saudi Arabia to the oilsands of Canada.
The below image shows how U.S. oil imports coming from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East have dropped drastically over the last 15 years:
Compare that to Canada, which now exports a whopping 1.37 billion barrels of oil to the U.S. each year.
If this trend continues, it could have big implications on foreign policy.
Can the United States continue to wean off its dependence on the Middle East? If so, Saudi Arabia’s role as a necessary “friend” in the region may dissipate over time, completely changing the composition of Middle Eastern geopolitics.
It also raises interesting questions from environmental and economic perspectives about Canadian oil, which mostly comes from the Athabasca Oilsands.
Bitumen is particularly expensive to produce, and the extra heavy oil already sells at a discount in American markets. With oil now hovering close to $40 per barrel, what does the future of Canadian oil look like ten years down the line? Further, will concerns over emissions and pollution stemming from the oilsands have any effect on production capabilities as time goes on?
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers
Just three countries—the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia—make up the lion’s share of global oil supply. Here are the biggest oil producers in 2022.
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers in 2022
In 2022 oil prices peaked at more than $100 per barrel, hitting an eight-year high, after a full year of turmoil in the energy markets in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Oil companies doubled their profits and the economies of the biggest oil producers in the world got a major boost.
But which countries are responsible for most of the world’s oil supply? Using data from the Statistical Review of World Energy by the Energy Institute, we’ve visualized and ranked the world’s biggest oil producers.
Ranked: Oil Production By Country, in 2022
The U.S. has been the world’s biggest oil producer since 2018 and continued its dominance in 2022 by producing close to 18 million barrels per day (B/D). This accounted for nearly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.
Almost three-fourths of the country’s oil production is centered around five states: Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Alaska, and Colorado.
We rank the other major oil producers in the world below.
|YoY Change||Share of
|2||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||12,136||+10.8%||12.9%|
|36||🇸🇸 South Sudan||141||-7.6%||0.2%|
|51||Other Middle East||210||+1.2%||0.2%|
|54||Other Asia Pacific||177||-10.6%||0.2%|
|55||Other S. &|
Behind America’s considerable lead in oil production, Saudi Arabia (ranked 2nd) produced 12 million B/D, accounting for about 13% of global supply.
Russia came in third with 11 million B/D in 2022. Together, these top three oil producing behemoths, along with Canada (4th) and Iraq (5th), make up more than half of the entire world’s oil supply.
Meanwhile, the top 10 oil producers, including those ranked 6th to 10th—China, UAE, Iran, Brazil, and Kuwait—are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s oil production.
Notably, all top 10 oil giants increased their production between 2021–2022, and as a result, global output rose 4.2% year-on-year.
Major Oil Producing Regions in 2022
The Middle East accounts for one-third of global oil production and North America makes up almost another one-third of production. The Commonwealth of Independent States—an organization of post-Soviet Union countries—is another major regional producer of oil, with a 15% share of world production.
|YoY Change||Share of
|South & Central|
What’s starkly apparent in the data however is Europe’s declining share of oil production, now at 3% of the world’s supply. In the last 20 years the EU’s oil output has dropped by more than 50% due to a variety of factors, including stricter environmental regulations and a shift to natural gas.
Another lens to look at regional production is through OPEC members, which control about 35% of the world’s oil output and about 70% of the world’s oil reserves.
When taking into account the group of 10 oil exporting countries OPEC has relationships with, known as OPEC+, the share of oil production increases to more than half of the world’s supply.
Oil’s Big Balancing Act
Since it’s the very lifeblood of the modern economy, the countries that control significant amounts of oil production also reap immense political and economic benefits. Entire regions have been catapulted into prosperity and wars have been fought over the control of the resource.
At the same time, the ongoing effort to pivot to renewable energy is pushing many major oil exporters to diversify their economies. A notable example is Saudi Arabia, whose sovereign wealth fund has invested in companies like Uber and WeWork.
However, the world still needs oil, as it supplies nearly one-third of global energy demand.
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