How much did the US spend on imported oil in 2011?

In 2011, the US spent $460 billion on imported oil. written on oil drum

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I have often wanted to know how much we spend on foreign oil each year, but have found it harder than I would expect to look up.  So as a good engineer would do, I estimated it based on EIA sources.

In 2011, the United States spent over $460 billion on imported foreign oil.

That represents 0.8% of the $60 trillion GDP for 2011.

In 2011, the US imported 4,146,266,000 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products.
Source: U.S. Imports of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products (Thousand Barrels)

Multiply that times the Brent Crude Oil Average Price Per Barrel for 2011: $111.26 and we get the total of $461,313,555,160 spent on imported foreign oil in 2011.  That is over $875 thousand a minute on foreign oil.  Think about what that money could do if it was invested in our economy to produce clean renewable energy.

Also see the updated report for 2012: How much did the US spend on imported oil in 2012?

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For those interested in overall oil consumption, the US consumed 18,949,430 barrels of oil per day in 2011.  That means the US consumed 6,916,541,950 barrels of oil in 2011.  More related information on the impacts and ways to address fossil fuel dependence can be found at our sister site Pennies Per Pound.

For a more local look, see how much Massachusetts spent on oil and natural gas and why renewable energy is right for my state.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Think what would happen if we spent all that on US produced oil and gas and that money stayed in the US economy,

    • $460 billion would pay for a lot of very good jobs. At $100,000/year that would be 4.6 million jobs, not that you can just divide it, but it would totally change the economy around.

    • Anonymous says

      Unlike the first Anonymous above, I happily support the notion that we should be investing more in clean energy. But the idea that you can take all of our fossil-fuel energy costs and buy clean energy instead is just horribly wrong. I also have a hard time with the idea that every dollar spent would directly drive jobs, American or otherwise.

    • Thank you for the comment. It was not my intention to infer that you could just take all the money spent on imported oil and buy renewable energy instead.

      I totally understand that most of that oil went towards transportation, which is in the infancy of options besides liquid fuels.

      I do want to point out that the $460 billion is only for imported oil for 2011 and that is a little less than half of the oil we used as a nation.

  2. Anonymous says

    That actually comes out to $875,000 per min not 875,000,000.

  3. Check out this article:

    I think this is the first thing I’ve ever heard of that shows legitimate promise in freeing us from our dependance on foreign oil, as well as enabling electric cars to be feasible in a way they could never be without it (think: induction charging).

  4. Every dollar saved would go to jobs. We sepnd all extrax dollars that get spent again and again. it is vital to keep those dollars in the usa. i frive natural gas car in thailand and it is beautify. $4.50 for a full tank.

  5. Waste of money walk everywhere all day every day

  6. Correction made to percentage of GDP. I mistaken had used the 4th quarter numbers for GDP to miscalculate that the oil imports represented 3% of GDP. Using the full year GDP it works out to 0.8% of GDP. Still a very big deal!

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