The Economic Perspective: “Why Do We Still Import Oil?”

I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective. Today’s program asks, why do we still import oil?  Mike, U.S. oil production has been rising in the last decade, so much so that many say our country is energy independent.  Yet the recent attack in Saudi Arabia that curtailed their oil exports revealed that the U.S. is still importing oil.  Why is this if we are producing so much oil ourselves?

  • Two big reasons
  • One – our oil production doesn’t occur near the major uses of oil products, like gas
  • Oil production is in the middle of the country, and the big population centers are on the coast
  • We still don’t have the infrastructure to get the oil to refineries and then to users
  • It is still cheaper, in many cases, to import oil and send it to refineries along the coasts – particularly the Gulf Coast
  • Second – oil varies in type – and we produce oil that our existing refineries largely can’t use
  • So, need more infrastructure to move oil and more and different refineries
  • I’m MW

And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.