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U.S. oil imports from OPEC fall to 30-year low

Christian Fernsby |
U.S. imports of crude oil from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in March 2019 reached the lowest level since March 1986, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Thursday.

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According to EIA's data, the U.S. imports of crude from OPEC members totaled 1.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in March. The figure has generally fallen over the previous decade as the United States has increased its domestic crude oil production.

> From the early 1980s through the late 2000s, OPEC member countries were the source of about half of all U.S. crude oil imports.

In the past decade, however, total U.S. crude oil imports have fallen and OPEC's share has decreased. Non-OPEC countries such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have made up larger shares.

In each of the past four years, Canada alone has supplied more crude oil to the United States than all OPEC members combined, EIA said.

Through the first quarter of 2019, U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC members Venezuela and Iraq have fallen the most. U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector have driven the imports to recent low levels, the organization concluded.

In the same period, the volume of U.S. crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the two largest sources of imports from OPEC in 2018, have averaged 26 percent and 28 percent below their 2018 average levels.

EIA observed that U.S. crude oil imports from other OPEC members also declined following a November 2016 agreement by OPEC members and a number of non-OPEC producers to cut crude oil production.

As a result of the cuts, many OPEC members reduced exports to the United States in favor of growing markets in Asia.

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