Sunday, January 16, 2011

Black gold...or, money for nothin'
The US imports too much oil, and sends too much of its treasure to other nations. How much, you ask?
2010 Total Imports of Petroleum
(Top 15 Countries, $100/barrel)
Country Thousands
% of Total
CANADA 2,516 $251.6 $91.83 24.09%
MEXICO 1,263 $126.3 $46.10 12.09%
SAUDI ARABIA 1,090 $109.0 $39.79 10.44%
VENEZUELA 998 $99.8 $36.43 9.55%
NIGERIA 1,037 $103.7 $37.85 9.93%
RUSSIA 626 $62.6 $22.85 5.99%
ALGERIA 503 $50.3 $18.36 4.82%
COLOMBIA 366 $36.6 $13.36 3.50%
ANGOLA 409 $40.9 $14.93 3.92%
VIRGIN ISLANDS 263 $26.3 $9.60 2.52%
KUWAIT 207 $20.7 $7.56 1.98%
ECUADOR 198 $19.8 $7.23 1.90%
BRAZIL 275 $27.5 $10.04 2.63%
UNITED KINGDOM 265 $26.5 $9.67 2.54%
IRAQ 429 $42.9 $15.66 4.11%
Total 10,445 $1,044.5 $381.24 100%

You can draw lots of conclusions from this revealing table, source data courtesy of EIA, "Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports."
  • First, we send a ton of money to Canada, almost twice as much as we do to Saudi Arabia -- not what most people assume.
  • Second, After Canada and Mexico, the list contains a bunch of semi-savory, autocratic, or pseudo-democratic states (Brazil excepted). Do you really want to buy guns for dictators instead of schoolbooks for American kids? Do you really like sitting in traffic breathing exhaust?
  • Third, this table reflects our consumption of imported petroleum. According to the EIA, we import about 51% of the oil we consume. In 2009, we consumed about 21.3 million barrels of petroleum products per day. At $100 / barrel, we then spend about $778.05 billion annually on petroleum products (this is a bit rough -- we are talking about petroleum products here, and many of these cost a lot more than $100 / barrel.  So, these numbers are conservative.).
  • Fourth, if we cut our oil consumption by just 10% (easy with better fuel economy in vehicles, and more diesel or electric vehicles), we would have an extra $80 billion to spend on things like trains... 
    • Trains powered by electricity generated from renewable energy? Jobs!
    • Trains manufactured in the US? Tracks laid down, and stations built by Americans? Jobs! 
    • People on trains are people not idling in traffic, burning fuel and time for nothing. 
    • People on trains can read books and get work done, instead of listening to talk radio.
    • People on trains powered by clean energy means people not on airplanes burning tens of thousands of pounds of aviation fuel every flight. 
    • People on trains means less oil bought and burned, ...more money freed up for more trains, ...less oil burned, ...more school books for kids, more jobs for Americans: a virtuous circle.
  • Fifth, burning less oil means we mitigate global warming and leave a planet for our kids to live on, we lead by example, and we become a nation that people in other nations admire and emulate. Again.
  • Wow. It would be better for everyone -- except oil company executives -- if we didn't waste so much money on oil, and buy so many guns for dictators, and Lear jets for executives, ...and so few books for our kids, and so few commuter and intercity trains for hardworking people who would rather not sit in traffic, or chauffeur their kids all over town (an overlooked upside to public transportation).
  • I know, I'm nuts. Or, a socialist, right?
Read more fun petroleum facts and figures at:

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