How much did the US spend on imported oil in 2012?

in 2012, the US spent $433 billion on imported oil on the side of oil can

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My calculation of what the US spent on importing oil in 2011 has become one of our most popular posts of all times. I have impatiently waited the release of the number of barrels imported for Dec 2012 to finish up the calculations. Here’s the answer:

In 2012, the United States spent $433 billion on imported foreign oil.

That represents 0.7% of the $62.7 trillion GDP for 2012.

In 2012, the US imported 3,878,250,000 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products.
Source: U.S. Imports of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products (Thousand Barrels)

I multiplied that times the Brent Crude Oil Average Price Per Barrel for 2012 of $111.67 to get the total of $433,084,177,500 spent on imported foreign oil in 2012.  I then calculated it on a month by month basis and the difference was 1/10th of a percent.  I use the Brent (European) average price for oil instead of the Cushing, Oklahoma WTI price because the Brent is more appropriate for imported oil.

To put that in some perspective, we spent $824 thousand per minute on foreign oil.

Compared to 2011, all the numbers are down slightly, except the cost of oil which is up slightly.  If we want to have a chance to get our economy back in order, we need to stop spending so much money on foreign energy and rely more on locally sourced and clean renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

Stack of 19 pennies

Sign the petition at

One very powerful and effective way to shift our energy dependence away from oil is to enact a carbon tax on all energy souces like the Pennies Per Pound CO2 Tax and Energy Stamp Program.

Happy Greening!

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p.s. The US consumed 6,790,9730,000 barrels of oil & other petroleum products in 2012.

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  1. It’s hard to come by well-informed people about this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks Helen

  2. Paul Scott says

    As it happens, I get to have lunch with President Obama on June 7th here in Santa Monica. I’ll have a few short minutes to tell him anything I wish. My intention is to make the economic case for electric cars and renewable energy. These numbers of your are an intergral part of my presentation, so thanks for providing them.

  3. Stephen Lewis says

    Okay. So we pay 433 billion a year on importing oil; however, we exported $137.5 billion in oil last year. WHY?
    Oil is the United States’ 4th largest export commodity. It was up 79.3% last year from 2011.
    In US dollars, it was the largest export, amounting to $137.5 billion dollars.
    The GOP keeps telling us that we must install more drills in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska and bring in the pipeline from Canada that will decimate large areas of our country.That pipeline will go from Canada to the gulf of Mexico. It will not stop at refineries in Oklahoma or Texas. Why? Because all of that oil will be shipped overseas. Why? This is why: To fill my tank in Chicago at $4.03 per gallon, it would cost $53.10. To fill the same car in Italy would cost $152.83 ($96.73 more.) Because big oil companies, who pay no taxes, can get nearly $100 more per gallon by sending their product overseas, they rape our resources and our country.
    So, who is urging the citizens to vote for the pipeline? It is those who have the money and who stand to make even more money while paying nothing in taxes while we, the taxpayers, support them.
    How much profit did the oil companies make last year?
    The big 5 oil companies: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobile and Shell earned $375 million in PROFITS per day in 2011 ($261,000 per minute.) They made $368 million per day in the first three months of 2012 – bringing their combined profits to $1 trillion from 2001 through 2011. In just 60 seconds, these five oil companies earned $261,000 – more than 96 percent of American households make in one year.
    So, where do they spend their vast fortunes? Because our Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, the big 5 oil companies are able to put out their message over tv and radio, and essentially buy elections to promote their agenda. Their propaganda in urging more oil production under the guise of making the US energy sufficient has worked.
    The fact is, the oil companies made 134 billion dollars last year, and we imported 433 billion in oil. In essence, the oil companies exported 1/3 of what we needed to run this country and make it self-sustaining. We could have reduced our dependence on foreign oil by 33% had the exported oil remained inside this country.
    The top two corporations on the Fortune 500 Global ranking, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, announced their 2012 second-quarter earnings today, bringing the total profits for three Big Oil companies to $44 billion for 2012 or $250 million every day this year. Exxon profited by $16 billion this quarter, bringing its earnings for 2012 to $25 billion.
    The New York Times wrote that Exxon and Shell’s earnings “disappoint,” because energy prices unexpectedly dropped for consumers this summer. Put their profits in the appropriate context, however, and Exxon and Shell still made a combined $160,000 per minute last quarter, even though the top five oil companies benefit from $2.4 billion federal tax breaks every year.
    Below we look at what Exxon and Shell spends its earnings on:
    – Exxon spent 42 percent — or $10.7 billion — of its 2012 profits buying back its stock, which enriches executives and largest shareholders.
    – Exxon has spent $17 million lobbying for the past 18 months, making it the top spender in the oil and gas industry. It has spent more than $52 million lobbying for the first three years of the Obama presidency, 50 percent more than in the Bush administration.
    – Exxon is sitting on $18 billion in cash reserves.
    – Exxon send federal candidates $1.3 million in campaign contributions so far this campaign cycle, sending 91 percent to Republicans.
    – Exxon paid just 13 percent in federal taxes last year, lower than the average American family. Right after Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the top recipient of Exxon federal contributions.
    – Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson received $24.7 million total compensation.
    Royal Dutch Shell:
    The gap between the rich and the poor in this country is the widest it has been since 1917.
    At very top of the heap, the richest 1 percent’s share of total household income was a record 19.3 percent last year.

    The bad news for America’s low-earning class just keeps coming: other data found that the top 1 percent saw their incomes recover by a respectable 31.4 percent during 2009 and 2012.

    That’s 95 percent of the total gain recognized in the US. The bottom 99 percent had to content themselves with growth of only 0.4 percent.

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