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US crude oil imports fall

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Even though total US net crude oil imports fell during 2013, the share of imports last year from the US’ top three foreign oil supplies, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, was the highest in at least 40 years. This is according to preliminary annual trade data from the EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly report. These three countries provided almost three out of every five barrels of oil imported into the US market in 2013.

US net crude oil imports last year declined 10.2% to 7.6 million bpd, the lowest level since 1996, as rising domestic crude oil production cut into the volume of imports needed to meet refinery demand for crude oil. The overall decline has led to an increasing concentration of net imports from Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Combined net oil imports from these countries decreased by 1.5% last year. As a result, the 4.6 million bpd of oil supplied by these three countries accounted for 61% of total US net oil imports in 2013, up from 55% the year before and their biggest share sine at least 1973. These countries generally produce medium to heavy, sour crude oil that is desirable to US refineries, while increasing US crude oil production from tight oil formations is typically of the light sweet quality. Also, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, these countries are near the US, with Mexico having a short shipping distance for its oil to the large number of refineries along the US Gulf Coast.

Highlights from the top three

Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico have consistently been America’s three largest crude oil suppliers; although their rankings are vary from year to year. Highlights from the top three sources for US crude oil imports in 2013:


  • Crude oil imports averaged a record 2.5 million bpd, up 3.9% from 2012.
  • Canada has few other outlets for Alberta’s rising crude oil production, so most of it is exported to the US.

Saudi Arabia

  • Crude oil imports averaged 1.3 million bpd, down 2.6%, but still the second highest in five years.
  • Through its Motiva Enterprises joint venture, the country’s state oil company is a partial owner of three large US Gulf Coast refineries that it partially supplies with Saudi Crude.


  • Crude oil imports of 850 000 bpd were down 13% and the lowest in more than 20 years, reflecting the continued decline in Mexico’s crude oil production.
  • Still, Mexico produces significant amounts of heavy crude that is well suited to run in US Gulf Coast oil refineries.

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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