By: Fay Johnson
The Nation’s international trade deficit decreased to $37.3 billion in January from $39.9 billion (revised) in December, as imports decreased more than exports.
If you read our Press Highlights, you may have noticed that the low quantity of crude oil imports keeps popping up:
January 2010:“The January quantity of crude oil imports (245 million barrels) was the lowest since February 1999 (234 million barrels).”
December 2009: “The 2009 quantity of crude oil imports (3.3 billion barrels) was the lowest since 1999 (3.2 billion barrels).”
November 2009: “The November quantity of crude oil imports (245 million barrels) was the lowest since February 1999 (234 million barrels).”
The repetitive nature of these highlights has saved me some time searching through numbers, with extra time I started thinking. Has our dependency on foreign oil actually decreased? I know thanks to the last blog post that we are importing renewable energy products, but have we really decreased our petroleum imports by that much?
I delved into the trade data to find out. These highlights have all come out of exhibit 17 from our press release, which has data on crude as well as total energy-related petroleum products. I decided to look at total energy-related petroleum product imports because often semi-finished products are imported over crude if refineries are not operating at full capacity, so the total energy-related petroleum product will give a more complete picture.
This month total energy-related petroleum product imports (329 million barrels) is only the lowest since November 2009 (314 million barrels), which isn’t nearly as impressive as February 1999. However it was still historically low, lasts year’s imports of energy-related petroleum products (4.3 billion barrels) were the smallest amount of petroleum we have imported in a year since 1999 (4.1 billion barrels). Can our dependency on foreign oil finally be declining, or is this just a temporary decrease perhaps due to the recession?