This article is from March, but the explanation is simple to understand and the article is trending:
Nasdaq headline: America Produces Enough Oil to Meet Its Needs, So Why Do We Import Crude?
MAR 8, 2022 10:18AM EST
The U.S does indeed produce enough oil to meet its own needs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2020 America produced 18.4 million barrels of oil per day and consumed 18.12 million. And yet that same report reveals that the U.S. imported 7.86 million barrels of oil per day last year.
That happens because of a combination of economics and chemistry. The economics are simple: overseas oil, even after shipping costs, is often cheaper than domestically-produced crude. That is because what oil people call “lifting costs,” the cost of actually getting the oil out of the ground, are so much lower in some other countries. That, in turn, is down to a number of factors. Environmental and other regulations here play a part in that cost differential of course, but, contrary to what some would have you believe, they are far from the be-all and end-all in affecting prices.
Land and lease prices are a big factor, as are labor and other costs. Then there is the fact that so many countries, and Russia is definitely one of them, that see oil exports as an important strategic and geopolitical tool. In those cases, these nations give concessions to ensure that their oil is sold at an advantageous price. Right now, Vladimir Putin is being accused of weaponizing energy supply, but it is something that he and other dictators and human rights abusers have been doing for years to make client nations, including the U.S., ignore who they are and what they do.
Give this writer a Joe Biden-MBS fist bump, will ya?
You see, the U.S. does produce enough oil to meet its own needs, but it is the wrong type of oil.
Crude is graded according to two main metrics, weight and sweetness. The weight of oil defines how easy it is to refine, or break down into its usable component parts, such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. Light crude is the easiest to handle, heavy is the most difficult, with intermediate obviously somewhere in between. The sweetness refers to the sulfur content of unrefined oil. The sweeter it is, the less sulfur it contains.
Most of the oil produced in the U.S. fields in Texas, Oklahoma, and elsewhere is light and sweet, compared to what comes from the Middle East and Russia. The problem is that for many years, imported oil met most of the U.S.’s energy needs, so a large percentage of the refining capacity here is geared towards dealing with oil that is heavier and less sweet than the kind produced here.
What I don’t understand is how the US Government hasn’t subsidized new light crude refineries - or retrofitted refineries - as National Security insurance. Of course nobody wants a new refinery near their homes - unless they are already built and in use and the populace is used to the supply of jobs over pollution. So retrofitting would probably be easier.