Data: Oil Change


As the media exposed our Saudi Arabian allies as double-dealing despots, attention has turned to the practical: Can the United States live without Saudi oil, which, at 1.6 million barrels a day, accounts for 14 percent of our imports? The answers are mixed. The Wall Street Journal's Susan Lee says we can, since other countries will simply sell more oil. Newsweek reached a similar conclusion. On the other hand, writing in The Weekly Standard, Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer says "not a chance"—at least not for many years.

The most useless contribution came from The New York Times' Paul Krugman, who said that "intelligent policies could break" the oil price surge-and-bust cycle. His only concrete suggestion: increase mileage standards on SUVs to those of cars. Unfortunately for Krugman, Stelzer disposed of this hoary idea, pointing out that even a 25 percent increase in mileage standards would take a decade to decrease oil consumption by barely more than 1 million barrels a day. That's less than we buy from the Saudis today.

U.S. Oil Supply 2000

Source Millions of Barrels Per Day

Domestic Production 9.39 45.8%

Canada 1.69 8.2%

Mexico 1.36 6.6%

South & Central America 2.58 12.6%

Western Europe 0.89 4.3%

Former Soviet Union 0.07 0.3%

Middle East 2.50 12.2%

North Africa 0.23 1.1%

West Africa 1.40 6.8%

Australasia 0.05 0.2%

China 0.04 0.2%

Japan 0.01 0.1%

Other Asia Pacific 0.18 0.9%

Unidentified 0.11 0.5%

TOTAL 20.50 100.0%*

*numbers do not add up to 100 due to rounding

Source: Energy Information Administration and BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2001