Less U.S. Foreign Oil Reliance yet Higher Gas Prices

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | In 2005 and 2006, the U.S. imported 60 percent of its oil from foreign oil suppliers. In 2011, the U.S. imported 45 percent of its oil from foreign suppliers, according to the White House Twitter feed. That's a 15 percent reduction in U.S. reliance on foreign oil over the last six years, but gas prices have only increased.

According to the same chart, U.S. reliance on foreign oil decreased 3 percent from 2006 to 2008. As we all know, The Great Recession started in 2008, and from 2008 to 2009 U.S. foreign oil dependence dropped 5 percent. The remaining 7 percent decline happened on President Barack Obama's watch.

The interesting thing about this is that in 2008, the United States consumed 136,532,389,550 gallons, as reported by the Federal Highway Administration. In 2010, the United States consumed 137,605,754,095 gallons. The average price of a gallon of regular gas in 2010 in Indiana was $2.78. In 2008, the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $2.71. Of course, 2008's gas prices are skewed by an extremely cheap December where gas averaged $1.64 a gallon. In other words, Americans used more gas and paid an average of 8 cents more per gallon throughout 2010 as compared to 2008.

In 2008, the U.S. imported 77,823,462,043 or 57 percent of total consumption. In 2010, the U.S. imported 67,426,819,596 gallons or a decrease of over 10 billion gallons in spite of using more than 1 billion more gallons as compared to 2008.

What this tells me is that the U.S. gas prices may not be linked to its reliance on foreign oil. Despite using less foreign oil in 2010 than 2008, gas prices still increased by an average of 8 cents.

Unfortunately, the totals for 2011 are not available, but if I assume the United States used the same amount of gas in 2011 that it used in 2010, the United States only imported 61,922,589,342 gallons of foreign oil, and according to the statistics that are available, in January 2011, the price of a gallon of regular gas was $2.96. Today, the price of a gallon of gas ranges from $3.70 to $3.90 or almost $1 more per gallon.

This leads me to the ultimate gas price question. If the U.S. is using 15 percent less foreign oil and foreign oil is the reason for high gas prices, why have U.S. gas prices increased 75 percent in the last year?

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