Nearly 40 percent of the oil we consume is imported

How is that possible? Let’s break it down.

 oil-import-infographic-finalThe United States consumes a lot of oil in order to get around.

A lot.


Last year, the United States guzzled nearly 15 million barrels of oil a day to fuel our transportation needs.1 Or, in other words, we consumed more than 4.7 billion water bottles worth of crude oil. Stacked top to bottom, 4.7 billion water bottles could reach to the moon and back and then some. We use that much oil—Every. Single. Day.

Too many words? Click here to check out our infographic on this same topic.

The staggering amount really shouldn’t come as a surprise: We’re an energy-intensive society, and virtually all the fuel we use to get to work or bring goods to market is refined from oil.

What is surprising is that last year just under 40 percent of the oil we consumed via transport needed to be imported from foreign countries.2 This is despite more domestic oil being produced in 2016 than any other year on record except for 2015.

That’s right. Even after accounting for exports, more than a third of the oil we used last year was imported.


Importing that much oil bears a hefty price tag. Specifically, that means approximately $325 million leaves our economy each day, and approximately $100 billion—with a b—throughout the course of a year, comprising around 20 percent of our trade deficit. That’s $944 that every American household ends up sending overseas, simply to import foreign oil.

Just imagine what we could do with that money if it were kept here in the U.S. It could support more than 1.6 million jobs3 in industries creating American-made alternative fuels like ethanol, natural gas, and electricity. It could also end up as more money in your pocket, allowing you to put more money towards your kids or retirement or recreational activities instead of going to fill up your tank.

Add in the benefits to our national security and environment, it becomes clear that ending our dependence on foreign oil should be a goal that Americans of all political persuasions should support. Are you in?


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1 We used EIA data to calculate how much crude oil we needed to meet our transportation needs (gasoline, diesel, aviation gasoline, jet fuel).
2 We took the number from earlier and then subtracted how much crude oil we produce according to EIA data.
3 Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculation that it costs approximately $72,500 for an employer to support a job.

3 replies
  1. Glenn Drover
    Glenn Drover says:

    No. I’m not in.
    If we could ever plan for a future beyond the next quarterly report, we would keep our strategic reserve intact for a time (very soon) when fossil fuels are a scarce and very expensive commodity.
    We should be importing 100% of our oul and gas while it is cheap.
    Allow those who despise us to deplete their reserves cheaply. Then, when they are tapped, we can sell ours at a premium…or retain what we need to fuel our industry and our military.

    • Nathan Taft
      Nathan Taft says:

      Interesting response Glenn. So then do you think we should be using more renewable source to displace oil like biofuels and electricity (renewably generated)?

  2. Tom
    Tom says:

    I bought a used Chevy Volt about three years ago. I drive 15K miles per year. My old car (22MPG) used 18 barrels of oil per year. My Chevy Volt only uses 3 1/2 barrels of oil per year. I charge my car at night when the energy demand on the grid is low. I buy wind power from my local utility. Imagine if every household had one car like mine or a 100% electric vehicle.

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