Oil Sands, Refined Products, and Exports: Just the Facts

U.S. Crude Oil Stays in the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2011, 99.7 percent of the crude oil produced in (or imported into) the United States was also consumed here, which means less than one-half of one percent (0.3 percent) was exported. Simply put, the United States does not export crude oil in any significant way.

The United States Exports Very Little Gasoline. Of the total on-road fuel produced in the United States in 2011, 92 percent of it was refined and consumed in the United States; only eight percent was exported. And of all the petroleum products that the United States does export, finished motor gasoline only represents about 21 percent. The majority of exported products (79 percent) are things like propane, ethanol, heating oil, and kerosene, which are produced in amounts in excess of U.S. demand.


What the United States Is Exporting Is Going to Mexico, which Benefits the United States. Of the gasoline that is exported, 60 percent goes to Mexico, from which the United States imports crude oil. This exchange benefits the United States: Gasoline is worth more than oil, so we’re purchasing a good and then selling back a more expensive good, not only creating a net value-add for the U.S. economy, but also creating manufacturing jobs and generating tax revenue.

The Oil Sands Would Replace Declining Supplies. According to the EIA, increased imports from the Canadian oil sands would likely replace heavy crude imports from Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Heavy oil imports from those three countries are about 900,000 barrels per day less than what they were in 2005, and they are projected to decline by an additional 540,000 barrels per day by 2020 and 845,000 barrels per day by 2035.

No Reason to Export Heavy Oil. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in reviewing the Keystone XL project, concluded that “there would be no economic incentive to ship Canadian oil sands [crude] to Asia via Port Arthur” without a surplus of heavy oil. And since heavy oil imports are declining (DOE noted that heavy oil imports “are likely to decrease by a significant amount within the next five years”), oil sands crude from Canada would be filling a gap, not creating excess supply.

Cross-posted at Energy Tomorrow.


  1. […] and diesel in the United States was refined and consumed here. The U.S. Dept. of Energy even concluded that “there would be no economic incentive to ship Canadian oil sands [crude] to Asia via Port […]

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