Net petroleum imports during the first four months of 2013 fell to only 36.2% of total petroleum consumption in the U.S. for that period (see chart above), according to new estimates from the Energy Information Administration. For the January-April period, that’s the lowest level of U.S. dependence on foreign sources of petroleum in 26 years, going back to 1987 when imports provided 35.2% of the total petroleum products consumed during the first four months of the year.
The U.S. produced more crude oil domestically during January-April this year at an average rate of 7.11 million barrels per day (bbl/d) than in any comparable period in more than two decades going back to 1992. Meanwhile, imports during the first four months of this year fell to the lowest level for that period since 1997, sixteen years ago. Together, the increased domestic production this year and the declining dependence on foreign sources brought net oil imports to a 26-year low.
Net petroleum imports were above 59% during the January to April period in every year between 2003 and 2007, and above 60% in 2005, 2006, and 2007 (see chart). Then as the fracking revolution started accessing oceans of U.S. shale oil starting about 2008, the share of oil supplied domestically increased from less than 39% of petroleum products consumed in 2006 to almost 64% during the first four months of this year, bringing net oil imports down during that period from 61.3% to only 36.2%. In just the period between 2007 and 2012, the shares of 60% imported petroleum to 40% domestically supplied oil almost completely reversed in only five years, to 41.5% imported petroleum to 58.5% domestically supplied by 2012, and the shares so far this year are only 36.2% of petroleum from imported sources and 63.8% from domestic sources.
It’s another important milestone in America’s ongoing energy revolution that net petroleum imports between January and April are below 40% so far this year for the first time since the late 1980s, and are at the lowest level in any year since 1987, 26 years ago.