I’ve been meaning to reformat this data and post here for some time. It includes data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a government entity which collects data and produces nothing more than Excel spreadsheets (most likely). Lots of oil production data…
I’ve often heard about the United States exporting a bunch of the oil that we drill out of the ground. I’ve also heard that our production is way up, and the greedy oil companies are simply exporting that production. I’ve heard the oil that would come from Canada via the proposed Keystone pipeline would be simply refined and shipped out.
Well, the federal government’s own statistics do not prove that to be the case. As it turns out, US oil production since 1985 has been on the decline. As a matter of fact, we are drilling – here in the United States – about 37 percent less crude oil than in 1985. In fairness, production actually did hit a 30 year low in 2008 where field production was about 1.81 billion barrels and it’s climbed to just under 2 billion barrels in 2010. 2010 is the last full year available at the EIA website for that statistic.
How about exports? US crude oil exports were at their lowest in 2002 (3.3 million) but have climbed up to about 15 million barrels in 2010. I’m talking millions here, not billions. Simple math tells us we are exporting 2.8 percent of our total oil (imports plus US production). Not much … compared to 1985.
In 1985 when field production in the United States was 3.27 billion barrels and we imported 1.17 billion barrels, we exported more than 16 percent of the total oil we had. As a percentage of what we have, we exported a lot less oil than we did 25 years prior.
How about Refineries?
We’ve heard comments that we need new refineries, but what is actually happening with them? EIA data shows we had 254 operating refineries in 1982, and we’re down to 137 in 2011. During the past 30 years or so, about 7 percent to 15 percent of the refineries were off line. 6 percent to 7 percent have been off line for the past three years. This is normal, since you can’t expect 100 percent of a manufacturing operation like that to be up 100 percent of the time.
So yes, we’re not just not building refineries, they are also being consolidated and/or shut down. I say consolidated because even though we have fewer refineries, crude oil distillation capacity has remained flat for almost 30 years. That’s right … our ability to distill the crude oil into a usable product has basically remained flat.
What say you concerning these numbers from EIA?