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Published on January 15th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

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Where Do We Get Our Oil?

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January 15th, 2010 by Zachary Shahan 

 

We know that dozens of billions of US dollars go to imported oil every month (nearly $1 billion a day). We know that some of that must go to unstable, unsafe countries.

A new report by the Center for American Progress titled “Oil Dependence is a Dangerous Habit” shows exactly how much oil we are getting from several such countries, and the results leave you wondering how safe we actually are and how serious we are about fighting terrorism and hostile political regimes.

The ironic thing to me, is that the companies so gung-ho about being patriotic and so critical of almost all clean energy efforts are the same companies who are giving so much money (see the graphs below) to these unstable countries.

Ten of the countries who we import a lot of oil from are also on the State Department’s Travel Warning list: Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Some leading importers may not be on the prestigious Travel Warning list, but show very anti-American foreign and energy policies as well.

Venezuela, one of our top five oil providers, is quite anti-American, if this Washington Post article is any indications of how the country thinks of us.

Demand Drives Price, Helps More Unstable & Unsafe Countries

Even if we do not trade with other very anti-American countries (e.g. Iran — legally, we cannot buy oil from them), our great oil dependence still drives the price of oil up everywhere and supports their business. Overall, the US is responsible for about a quarter of the worldwide oil demand: “In 2008 the United States consumed 23 percent of the world’s petroleum, 57 percent of which was imported. Yet the United States holds less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.” This supports Iran’s economy indirectly, but strongly as well.

As the Center for American Progress shows, we already rely a lot on unstable and unsafe countries, but as some of our allies who supply us with much of our oil begin to have a more and more limited ability to do so (e.g. Canada and Mexico), we will have to rely even more and more on the countries listed above, unless we switch to a new energy economy.

Oil Hurting Our Economy

Increasing oil imports is not good for our economy. It recently increased our trade deficit, worsening an already bad economic situation.

Because of our reliance on foreign oil, we send money to other countries rather than using it to invest in US technology and the US economy.

Bottom line: reliance on foreign oil is increasingly dangerous and economically costly.

Why We Have to Struggle So Hard to Get Clean Energy Legislation

Why so many Republicans and some Democrats have a hard time supporting clean energy legislation is clear — they care more about the profits of their or their supporters’ oil companies than the profits and security of the American people.

Look at who is making money on the imported oil:

In 2008 Chevron made a profit of $23.9 billion while nearly half of its imports—138 million barrels of oil—came from these countries. ExxonMobil made $45.2 billion while getting 43 percent of its oil—205.6 million barrels—from these countries. About one-third of BP’s imports—110.6 million barrels—were from these countries in 2008, when the company’s profits were $25.6 billion.

Approximately 25 percent of ConocoPhillips’ imports were from “dangerous or unstable” countries—116.7 million barrels—in 2008, contributing to its $52.7 billion profit. And Shell raked in $31.4 billion that year, also importing one-quarter of its oil—61.8 million barrels—from these countries. (Note: Shell includes Shell Chemical LP, Shell Chemical Yabucoa Inc, Shell US Trading Co, Shell Oil Co, and Shell Oil Co Deer Park).

It should be no secret by now, these companies are driving the lobbyists, media, and “citizens’ groups” who are against the clean energy and climate legislation that will help the US economy as a whole.

If only every American could connect a few dots: oil dependence -> economic loss; oil dependence -> support for unstable, anti-American countries.

There is nothing complicated about it. Oil dependence is one of the most unpatriotic things we can continue to support.

via Climate Progress/Center for American Progress

Related Stories:

  1. $25 Billion for Imported Oil — In One Month!
  2. Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions Trends — 1990, 2000, 2008
  3. Green Economy = More Jobs

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Diana B199830

    What should normal people do to reduce the increase of oil sands rising?
    Buy resources from other channels? Do you have any examples?

  • Firesuppression

    What…? the article says that Canadian oil output is decreasing and we must depend more on other hostile countries? Ah’… I think the author needs to do a fact check. Canadian oil output is increasing. Recoverable oil from the Canadian oil sands exceeds that of Saudi Arabia. The oil sands in the Bakken oil sands in the USA maybe equally as big. We do not have an oil shortage we have a short sighted EPA that prevents the economical recovery of a national resource. They would rather cover the planet with corn rows and wind mills to try and create energy that already comes from a natural source under ground. What about natural gas? We all full of the stuff :) We have more than we could use in hundreds of years. But the EPA prevents installation of pipelines. Natural gas which comes up with the oil in Prudhoe Bay, AK is pumped back down the hole (at considerable cost) because there is no means to transport it. The EPA prohibits a gas pipeline.

    Electric Cars? LOL! Where does the electricity come from? Mostly coal fired power plants. Do a Google search and see how many acres of solar cells or corn row you need to equal the output of one typical power plant. It doesn’t work… to replace our power pruction with wind mills, solar and Bio you would have to cover the USA with solar cells, wind mills, and bio-plant/fuel.

    The EPA and the environmental movement may have good intentions (well maybe not the EPA ..LOL) Good intentions aren’t worth crap. Just look at the Federal Government subsided solar cell company Solyndra. After getting $535,000,000 from the American tax payer they go bankrupt. Why? The government bank rolled them out of emotion and good intentions. They should have looked for a solid business plan instead.

    You still need oil/gas folks. Get used to it and get the government to allow us to use our resource until other more economical source are developed by “private industry”.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    That we’re sending a billion dollars overseas every day for oil is tragic on many fronts. Funding governments that do not support freedom or democracy, adding to the trade deficit, and generating tons of CO2 – a losing proposition on all fronts. Alternative energy was cost effective a long time ago when you consider ALL the effects of importing oil.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    That we’re sending a billion dollars overseas every day for oil is tragic on many fronts. Funding governments that do not support freedom or democracy, adding to the trade deficit, and generating tons of CO2 – a losing proposition on all fronts. Alternative energy was cost effective a long time ago when you consider ALL the effects of importing oil.

  • t4

    a mixture of fact and fiction. alternate energy is and should be carefully considered when it s viable – most alt energy is drivel – ethanol — drives up food prices, huge carbon footprint, if you’re a green, and no distribution network to name just a few. Give me a break. Dems and reps support alt energy when it benefits people in their district or catches their fancy. Oil does not increase our deficit, we actually gave more to bankers for them to give themselves bonuses andnow a “free” trillion healthcare. understand econ reality

  • t4

    a mixture of fact and fiction. alternate energy is and should be carefully considered when it s viable – most alt energy is drivel – ethanol — drives up food prices, huge carbon footprint, if you’re a green, and no distribution network to name just a few. Give me a break. Dems and reps support alt energy when it benefits people in their district or catches their fancy. Oil does not increase our deficit, we actually gave more to bankers for them to give themselves bonuses andnow a “free” trillion healthcare. understand econ reality

  • Paul

    Every anti-Electric Vehicle ‘study’-’report’ published recently in an attempt to sway public opinion needs to be put into context with the facts contained in this post.

  • Paul

    Every anti-Electric Vehicle ‘study’-’report’ published recently in an attempt to sway public opinion needs to be put into context with the facts contained in this post.

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