Infographic: How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
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How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

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How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?

When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…

Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.

Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.

Pliable Properties

It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.

The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Inexpensive
  3. Plentiful
  4. Easy to Shape
  5. Durable
  6. Flame Retardant

Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.

This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.

Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy

Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.

Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.

Timeline:

  • 1916
    Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
  • 1941
    Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
  • 1960
    About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
  • 1970
    Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
  • 1980
    Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
  • 2000
    Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
  • Present
    The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts

Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation

Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.

For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.

Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.

Oil and the EV Future

Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.

In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.

Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.

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Energy

Visualizing U.S. Crude Oil and Petroleum Product Imports in 2021

This visualization breaks down U.S. oil imports by country for 2021, showing the split by OPEC and non-OPEC nations.

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U.S. Petroleum Product and Crude Oil Imports in 2021: Visualized

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Energy independence is top of mind for many nations as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted sanctions and bans against Russian coal and crude oil imports.

Despite being the world’s largest oil producer, in 2021 the U.S. still imported more than 3 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products, equal to 43% of the country’s consumption.

This visualization uses data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to compare U.S. crude oil and refined product imports with domestic crude oil production, and breaks down which countries the U.S. imported its oil from in 2021.

U.S. Crude Oil Imports, by Country

The U.S. imports more than 8 million barrels of petroleum products a day from other nations, making it the world’s second-largest importer of crude oil behind China.

America’s northern neighbor, Canada, is the largest source of petroleum imports at 1.58 billion barrels in 2021. These made up more than 51% of U.S. petroleum imports, and when counting only crude oil imports, Canada’s share rises to 62%.

RankCountryU.S. Oil Imports (2021, in barrels)Share
#1🇨🇦 Canada1,584 million51.3%
#2🇲🇽 Mexico259 million8.4%
#3🇷🇺 Russia254 million7.9%
#4🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia156 million5.1%
#5🇨🇴 Colombia74 million2.4%
#6🇪🇨 Ecuador61 million2.0%
#7🇮🇶 Iraq57 million1.9%
#8🇧🇷 Brazil52 million1.7%
#9🇰🇷 South Korea48 million1.6%
#10🇳🇱 Netherlands46 million1.5%
#11🇳🇬 Nigeria45 million1.5%
Other countries459 million14.7%
Total3,091 million100.0%

The second-largest contributor to U.S. petroleum imports was another neighbor, Mexico, with 259 million barrels imported in 2021—making up a bit more than 8% of U.S. petroleum imports.

Russia was the third-largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products to the U.S. in 2021, with their 254 million barrels accounting for almost 8% of total imports.

U.S. Crude Oil and Petroleum Imports from OPEC and OPEC+

Only about 11% of U.S. crude oil and petroleum product imports come from OPEC nations, with another 16.3% coming from OPEC+ members.

While imports from OPEC and OPEC+ members make up more than a quarter of America’s total petroleum imports, this share is fairly small when considering OPEC members currently control nearly 80% of the world’s oil reserves.

Which Countries are Part of OPEC and OPEC-Plus?

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a group of 13 petroleum producing nations that formed in 1960 to provide steady prices and supply distribution of crude oil and petroleum products.

In 2016, OPEC-plus was formed with additional oil-exporting nations in order to better control global oil supply and markets in response to a deluge of U.S. shale supply hitting the markets at that time.

OPEC members:

  • 🇮🇷 Iran*
  • 🇮🇶 Iraq*
  • 🇰🇼 Kuwait*
  • 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia*
  • 🇻🇪 Venezuela*
  • 🇩🇿 Algeria
  • 🇦🇴 Angola
  • 🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea
  • 🇬🇦 Gabon
  • 🇱🇾 Libya
  • 🇳🇬 Nigeria
  • 🇨🇩 Republic of the Congo
  • 🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates

* Founding members

OPEC+ members:

  • 🇷🇺 Russia
  • 🇲🇽 Mexico
  • 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan
  • 🇲🇾 Malaysia
  • 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan
  • 🇧🇭 Bahrain
  • 🇧🇳 Brunei
  • 🇴🇲 Oman
  • 🇸🇩 Sudan
  • 🇸🇸 South Sudan

Although OPEC and OPEC+ members supply a significant part of U.S. crude oil and petroleum imports, America has avoided overdependence on the group by instead building strong ties with neighboring exporters Canada and Mexico.

Crude Oil Imports Capitalize on U.S. Refineries

While the U.S. has been a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products the past two years, exporting 3.15 billion barrels while importing 3.09 billion barrels in 2021, crude oil-only trade tells a different story.

In terms of just crude oil trade, the U.S. was a significant net importer, with 2.23 billion barrels of crude oil imports and only 1.08 billion barrels of crude oil exports. But with the U.S. being the world’s largest crude oil producer, why is this?

As noted earlier, neighboring Canada makes up larger shares of U.S. crude oil imports compared to crude oil and petroleum product imports. Similarly, Mexico reaches 10% of America’s crude oil imports when excluding petroleum products.

Maximizing imports from neighboring countries makes sense on multiple fronts for all parties due to lower transportation costs and risks, and it’s no surprise Canada and Mexico are providing large shares of just crude oil as well. With such a large collection of oil refineries across the border, it’s ultimately more cost-efficient for Canada and Mexico to tap into U.S. oil refining rather than refining domestically.

In turn, Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. produced gasoline and diesel fuel, and Canada is the third-largest importer of American-produced refined petroleum products.

Replacing Russian Crude Oil Imports

While Russia only makes up 8% of American petroleum product imports, their 254 million barrels will need to be replaced as both countries ceased trading soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an effort to curb rising oil and gasoline prices, in March President Joe Biden announced the release of up to 180 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Other IEA nations are also releasing emergency oil reserves in an attempt to curb rising prices at the pump and volatility in the oil market.

While the U.S. and the rest of the world are still managing the short-term solutions to this oil supply gap, the long-term solution is complex and has various moving parts. From ramping up domestic oil production to replacing oil demand with other cleaner energy solutions, oil trade and imports will remain a vital part of America’s energy supply.

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Energy

Interactive Map: Crude Oil Pipelines and Refineries of the U.S. and Canada

Explore North America’s crude oil pipelines and refineries across the U.S. and Canada in our interactive map.

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map of crude oil pipelines and refineries in north america

Mapped: Crude Oil Pipelines and Refineries of the U.S. and Canada

Pipelines are the primary method of transporting crude oil around the world, delivering oil and its derivative products swiftly to refineries and empowering reliant businesses.

And North America is a major oil hub. The U.S. and Canada alone are home to more than 90,000 miles of crude oil and petroleum product pipelines, along with more than 140 refineries that can process around 20 million barrels of oil every day.

This interactive graphic uses data from Rextag to map out crude oil pipelines and refineries across the U.S. and Canada, showcasing individual pipeline diameter and daily refinery throughput.

The Longest Crude Oil Pipeline Networks in North America

Since 2010, U.S. crude oil production has more than doubled from 5.4 million barrels a day to more than 11.5 million. Meanwhile, the pipeline networks needed to transport this newly produced oil have only expanded by roughly 56%.

Today, the largest pipeline network across the U.S. and Canada (with a diameter of at least 10 inches) is the 14,919 mile network managed by Plains, which spans from the northwestern tip of Alberta all the way down to the southern coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

CompanyLength of Crude Oil Pipeline Network
Plains Pipeline LP14,919 miles
Enbridge Energy Partners LP12,974 miles
Sunoco Inc. 6,409 miles
MPLX LP5,913 miles
Lotus Midstream5,767 miles

Source: Rextag

Enbridge owns the next largest crude oil pipeline network, with 12,974 miles of crude oil pipelines that are at least 10 inches in diameter. The Canadian company, one of the world’s largest oil companies, transports about 30% of the crude oil produced in North America.

Following the networks of Plains and Enbridge, there’s a steep drop off in the length of pipeline networks, with Sunoco’s crude oil pipeline network spanning about half the length of Enbridge’s at 6,409 miles.

The Largest Crude Oil Refineries in North America

These various sprawling pipeline networks initially carry crude oil to refineries, where it is processed into gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products.

The refineries with the largest throughput in North America are all located in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), with the five refineries that process more than 500,000 barrels per day all located in the states of Louisiana and Texas.

CompanyCityRefining Capacity (barrels per day)
Motiva EnterprisesPort Arthur, Texas607,000
Marathon PetroleumGalveston Bay, Texas585,000
Marathon PetroleumGaryville, Louisiana578,000
ExxonMobilBaytown, Texas560,000
ExxonMobilBaton Rouge, Louisiana518,000

Source: Rextag

While Texas and Louisiana have six refineries that process more than 400,000 barrels per day, there are only two other facilities outside of these states with the same kind of throughput, located in Whiting, Indiana (435,000 barrels per day) and Fort McMurray, Alberta (465,000 barrels per day).

Fort McMurray’s facility is an upgrader, which differs from refineries as it upgrades heavy oils like bitumen into lighter synthetic crude oil which flows through pipelines more easily. Many oil refineries aren’t able to directly convert bitumen, which is extracted from oil sands like those found in Alberta, making upgraders a necessary part in the production and processing of crude oil from oil sands.

The Uncertain Future of New Pipelines in North America

The development of new pipelines remains a contentious issue in Canada and the U.S., with the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline emblematic of growing anti-pipeline sentiment. In 2021, only 14 petroleum liquids pipeline projects were completed in the U.S., which was the lowest amount of new pipelines and expansions since 2013.

But domestic energy production is once again in the spotlight due to the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports and Russia’s impending export ban on raw materials. North American consumers are now facing surging gasoline and energy prices as foreign oil is proving to be far less reliable in times of geopolitical turmoil.

It’s important to note that pipelines are not a perfect solution, as leaks and spills in just the last decade have resulted in billions of dollars of damages. From 2010 to 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recorded 983 incidents that resulted in 149,000 spilled and unrecovered barrels of oil, five fatalities, 27 injuries, and more than $2.5B in damages.

But over the past five years, liquid pipeline incidents have fallen by 21% while pipeline mileage and barrels delivered have increased by more than 27%. Along with these infrastructure improvements, pipeline developers and operators emphasize the lack of better alternatives, as freight and seaborne transportation are both far less efficient and result in more carbon emissions.

Currently, pipelines remain key components of energy consumption across the U.S. and Canada, and as global energy markets face supply squeezes, international sanctions, and geopolitical turbulence, the focus on them has grown.

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