Rising Oil Imports Show Risks of Restricting U.S. Production

America’s hard-fought energy superpower status could be faltering after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed that crude oil imports rose sharply in the past week, while exports fell.

EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report said:

“U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million barrels per day last week, up by 197,000 barrels per day from the previous week.”

Commenting on the report, MENAFN also noted that “crude oil exports hovered about 3.7 million b/d, a decrease by around 233,000 b/d from the prior week.”

The latest data should serve as a flashing red light to political leaders seeking to severely curb American oil production. California – the 7th-largest oil-producing state in the nation – aims to ban fracking by 2024 and stop all oil production by 2045. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has maintained a ban on new leasing on federal lands and waters – areas that account for a quarter of the country’s oil production. A court recently declared the ban to be illegal, but the administration has not yet made any significant adjustments to its policy.

Oil production in the United States has increased from a low of 3.8 million barrels per day in 2008 to a high of 13.2 million barrels per day in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic severely curtailed demand. It’s no coincidence that this timeframe also coincided with a sharp drop off in oil imports through much of the 2010s.

Strong domestic production has helped the United States become an energy superpower – a role that supports the U.S. economy and enhances diplomatic relations abroad. According to the Global Energy Institute’s Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk, the shale revolution over the past decade is a primary reason the United States is on pace to achieve its highest security score since 1970.

However, the latest EIA report and other data show that our energy security could be at risk.

Most alarmingly, oil imports from Russia in March hit its highest point since 2011.

It’s a reminder that just because political leaders work to curtail oil supply does not mean that demand also drops.

As Energy In Depth noted in March, the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline doesn’t mean the United States will be consuming less oil, rather we will probably just more heavily rely on Russian imports.

Likewise, in New England, where leaders have blocked the development of pipelines and domestic energy production, the region has increasingly relied on imports of natural gas, including from Russia.

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