More recent update:
A couple years ago, I tried to find out how much money the US economy spent on importing oil, but could not find that fact listed anywhere. All of the information I needed to calculate it was out there, so I wrote one of our most popular posts showing how I calculated how much the US spent on imported oil in 2011. I updated the calculations when the numbers were released for US Oil Imports and Pricing for 2012.
In 2013, the United States spent $388 Billion on imported oil.
That represents 2.3% of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $16.8 Trillion for 2013.
In 2013, the US imported 3,574,781,000 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products.
Source: EIA – US Imports of Crude Oil
To convert that to gallons, something we are more familiar with, you multiply times 42. Therefore, in 2013, the US imported roughly 150 billion gallons of oil.
To calculate the cost of the imported oil, I took the Brent Crude Oil Average Price Per Barrel of $108.64/barrel for 2013 and multiplied it times the number of barrels imported to get $388,000,000,000 spent on imported foreign oil in 2013.
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, that works out to spending over $738,000 per minute on foreign oil.
My next question is how does that compare to previous years. Fortunately we have seen a solid decline in the US imports of foreign oil, about 7% per year over the past 2 years. That combined with a slight decrease in the price of imported oil, has led to a significant decline in the amount of money the US economy pays to import oil. Unfortunately, we have seen total US consumption of oil remain flat at about 7 billion barrels per year.
This chart shows the total oil consumption with the bars (blue is domestic production and gray is imports), and the dollars spent on imported oil with a line for 2011-2013.
Hopefully, with the awareness growing of impact we are having on our climate, we will also see a reduction in the total oil consumption, not just what we import.
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Past reports on how much the US spent on importing oil: