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How the U.S. Became 'The China of Refined' Gasoline

How the U.S. Became 'The China of Refined' Gasoline
Photograph by Eddie Seal/Bloomberg

You hear all the time that America is too dependent on foreign oil. For the better part of the past 50 years, the U.S. has imported the majority of its crude. But that dependance is quickly diminishing. According to the Energy Information Administration, crude oil imports fell to 8.9 million barrels a day in 2011, the lowest level in more than a decade. Since 2005, foreign imports have dropped from 60 percent of U.S. consumption to 45 percent last year, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.

In December 2011, for example, the U.S. imported 1.3 million barrels a day from Saudi Arabia, compared with 1.6 million in December 2007. The decline in imports from Venezuela has been even steeper—just 860,000 barrels per day compared with 1.3 million four years earlier, although Venezuela’s declining production capacity has also been a factor in the drop.