Although total U.S. crude oil imports in 2015 continued to be lower than levels reached during the mid-2000s, imports from the United States’ top foreign oil supplier—Canada—were the highest on record, according to annual trade data from EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly. Canada provided 4 out of every 10 barrels of oil imported into the United States in 2015.
U.S. gross crude oil imports from all sources averaged 7.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2015, down 27% since the 2005 high of 10.1 million b/d. As gross crude oil imports decline, a growing share of remaining imports are being sourced from four top suppliers: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico. Canada, America’s largest crude oil supplier since 2004, sent a record-high 3.2 million b/d of gross crude oil exports to the United States in 2015, up 10% from the year before, accounting for a record 43% of total U.S. crude oil imports. Canada also receives nearly all U.S. crude oil exports, making up 422,000 b/d, or 92%, of the 458,000 b/d of crude oil exported from the United States in 2015.
Canada generally produces heavy, sour crude oil that is well-matched to processing capacity in the United States, where many refineries have the equipment needed to process such oil. Canada has few alternative outlets for the heavy crude produced in Alberta, where most of Canada’s proved oil reserves are located. Canada is expected to continue to provide a large share of U.S. oil imports for the foreseeable future, especially given the expansion of pipeline and rail shipping capacities to transport Canadian oil.