Source: US Energy Information Agency, International Energy Annual Report.
Petroleum Production, Consumption and Imports, United States, 1949-2012
The United States has different levels of energy dependency (production over consumption) according to the source of energy it consumes. It is self-sufficient for coal but must rely on imports for petroleum, particularly since it is well beyond its own peak oil, which occurred in the early 1970s. While the United States produced 69% the petroleum it consumed in 1970, this figure has dropped to 25% in 2005. To insure stability in oil supplies, the United States rely on several suppliers. OPEC was representing between 75 to 80% of imports in the 1970s and 1980s. This share is now around 55%. The new suppliers are Mexico, Venezuela, Canada and Nigeria, which are not OPEC members. While the dependency of the United States on foreign oil has increased, there are recent positive developments as this share of domestic oil production over consumption increased to 35% in 2012. This is mainly due to improved drilling and recovery technologies, particularly of oil shale.
Through the 1960s and early 1970s, the price of petroleum was low and petroleum imports increased steadily. With the first oil shock (1973), the price of petroleum increased substantially, temporarily stabilizing petroleum imports. As the price of petroleum remained relatively stable through the end of the 1970s, petroleum imports resumed their growth. In 1980 the second oil shock (Iranian Revolution) substantially impacted on oil prices. Petroleum imports were reduced significantly and domestic production increased as several oil fields in the United States became profitable in such a context of high oil prices. The oil counter-shock of 1986 shifted this trend and petroleum imports by the United States have increased steadily since then, with fluctuations mainly attributed to fluctuations in oil prices and geopolitical events (e.g. First Gulf War of 1991).
Since 2008, two significant trends are being observed. The first is a growth in domestic production, the outcome of high oil prices and its influence of the recoverability of oil resources. The second is a decline in domestic consumption, the outcome of an ongoing economic recession as well as improvement in energy efficiency and the greater use of alternative sources of energy.