China, Europe, USA: Net-Import of Oil in 2004

Notes: Import minus Export in million tons.

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2005

The above flow diagram was created by the author, using data from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2005. It represents the net oil trade of China, Europe and the USA with its main providers of crude oil.

The diagram reveals that Europe is, by far, the most vulnerable region in terms of oil supply. Its total net import of crude oil in 2004 of some 524 million tons came almost exclusively from only three sources - the Former Soviet Union (264.9 million tons), the Middle East (159.6 million tons) and Africa (113.4 million tons). More then halve of Europe's net-import of crude oil came from countries of the former Soviet Union, primarily the Russian Federation.

The United States of America, on the other hand, have greatly diversified their sources of crude oil, They have five major sources of its net oil imports: The Middle East (124.9 million tons), South and Central America (18.9 million tons), Africa (104.5 million tons), and Canada (98.1 million tons) and Mexico (74.4 million tons).

Even China, which has only recently began the net import of oil, has a somewhat more diversified range of suppliers (as compared to Europe): In 2004, China had net imports of oil from the Middle East (62.8 million tons), Africa (35.3 million tons), other Asia Pacific (26.6 million tons), and the former Soviet Union (18 million tons).

Public opinion in Europe is overtly hostile to US policies in the Middle East, by assuming it would be driven exclusively by US oil interests in the region. In reality, the United States are much less dependent on the Middle East than Europe is on the Russian Federation. If the political climate between Europe and Russia would become hostile, the continent could be cut off from more than half of its net oil imports and its economy would be suffocated in weeks. Europe's dependence on Russia's oil (and to an even greater extent on Russia's natural gas) makes the continent susceptible to political blackmail.

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. - 30 Sept. 2012