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US crude oil imports increase

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Gross US crude oil imports in 2016 rose to an average of 7.9 million bpd, 514 000 bpd more than the 2015 average. Net crude oil imports increased by a smaller amount (460 000 bpd), as US crude oil exports rose despite a decline in US crude oil production. From a longer term perspective, gross crude oil imports in 2016 were still 22% lower than their 2005 high of 10.1 million bpd. Crude oil imports have also been affected by other major changes since 2005, when the US was the world’s largest net importer of refined products and crude oil. In 2016, the US was the world’s largest net exporter of refined products, with a significant portion of crude oil input to US refiners supporting those exports.

Canada continued to be the largest source of US crude oil imports in 2016, providing a record 3.3 million bpd, or 41% of total US imports — more than all Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) combined. Among non-OPEC suppliers, 2016 marked the seventh consecutive year of increasing crude oil imports from Canada and the sixth consecutive year of decreasing crude oil imports from Mexico. Imports from Mexico have declined as Mexico’s crude oil production, its total crude export sales, and the share of its exports sold in the US have all fallen. Increased US imports of heavy Canadian crude oils are replacing some imported Mexican crude oils of similar quality. Canada’s share of US crude oil imports declined slightly from 2015, as both imports and import shares from countries such as Iraq and Nigeria grew, according to annual trade data from EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly.

OPEC supplied 40% of the crude oil imported to the US in 2016, up slightly from 36% in 2015. Nevertheless, OPEC’s share in 2016 was lower than in any year between 1973, the earliest year for which EIA has country-specific crude oil import data, and 2014.

Imported crude oil from Iraq and Nigeria were the largest contributors to the increase in US crude oil imports in 2016. Imports from Iraq increased from 229 000 bpd in 2015 to 418 000 bpd in 2016, and imports from Nigeria increased from 54 000 bpd to 210 000 bpd. Nigerian crude oil is of similar quality to that produced in the Bakken region in parts of North Dakota and Montana. As production in the Bakken region (and the US as a whole) declined, refiners may have increased imports from Nigeria to replace these barrels.

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