United States still foreign oil dependent

Author: West Texas oil field near Lubbock, Texas

SALEM Ore., Mar. 5, 2014 — Oil and natural gas in the United States have entered into a golden era of production brought on by new drilling technologies.

Unlocking shale deposits has altered the U.S. energy picture for decades to come. Production of both oil and gas are increasing for the first time since the 1970s.

There have been optimistic claims made that production increases, conservation, green energy and the Great Recession have combined to make the United States energy independent. Sadly, such is not the case.

Make no mistake, the United States is still very much dependent on foreign oil. That becomes painfully obvious when comparing energy consumption to energy production in the United States.

Author: Data from EIA Annual Energy Review
Author: Data from EIA Annual Energy Review
Author: Data from EIA Annual Energy Review

The two graphs above show 2012 energy consumption and production numbers for the United States by energy source. 2012 is the most current full year that data is available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Fossil fuels are displayed in black, renewables in green and nuclear in blue.

For apples-to-apples energy comparisons between sources they are displayed in a standard energy unit: quadrillions of BTUs. A BTU is a British Thermal Unit. One quadrillion BTU is the equivalent of eight billion gallons of gasoline or 293 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s a lot!

The top consumption graph shows that 82 percent of all energy used in the United States came from fossil fuels in 2012. Just over nine percent came from renewables. Half of that, though, was biomass energy used to make ethanol for gasoline additives.

Energy consumption and production closely match to all sources except for one glaring exception: petroleum!

The United States consumed 20.8 quadrillion more BTUs of oil than it produced in 2012. That means the United States came up about 166 billion gallons of gasoline short of being oil independent!

That amount is more than all the coal consumed in the United States. It is almost 2.5 times more than either renewable or nuclear. Twenty two percent of all U.S. energy consumed came from imported foreign oil.

The United States is far, far from being oil independent.

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