Closer Look: US Imports of Russian Oil

RED President Steve Hendrickson examines the U.S. imports of Russian crude and petroleum products plus the likelihood of losing those volumes. 

Steve Hendrickson, Ralph E. Davis Associates
Closer Look: US Imports of Russian Oil

So why does the U.S. import crude and petroleum products from Russia? According to a fact sheet released last week by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, it comes down to logistics, Hendrickson says. (Source: Shutterstock.com)

Over the weekend, I saw a comment (a tweet, actually) by a politician conflating our imports of oil from Russia with the Keystone XL pipeline. He claimed that if Keystone was approved, we wouldn’t import any crude from Russia. This struck me as a big oversimplification, so I decided to look a bit closer at why we import oil from Russia in the first place.

The graph below shows historical crude oil and petroleum products imports into the U.S. from Russia in thousands of barrels per day as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). I’ve added a 12-month moving average, as well. According to the EIA in the most recent months they’ve reported, about 70% of these volumes are petroleum products, most of which are partially refined crude (unfinished oils) or motor gasoline. Unfinished crude that’s further refined into gasoline once it reaches our shores makes up about half of our petroleum imports from Russia. Altogether, these volumes account for about 3% of the U.S.’s daily petroleum consumption of approximately 18.2 million bbl/d (EIA, 2020)—as an interesting aside, this pandemic-depressed volume was the lowest level of petroleum consumption in the U.S. since 1995.

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