Although U.S. oil imports were down 8.9 percent in July from a year earlier, to 9.227 million barrels per day, oil supplies from Canada to the United States hit new records, picking up the slack as OPEC countries have cut back exports to the U.S.
Already the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S., imports from Canada rose 5.4 percent in July to the highest monthly level in at least 36 years, the federal Energy Information Administration said Sept. 30.
Imports from Canada in July rose 109,000 bpd from June, and 134,000 bpd, or 6.8 percent, from July 2008, averaging 2.11 million bpd, the most since the EIA began reporting import numbers by country in January 1973.
More than 62 percent of the crude was shipped via pipeline into the Midwest, including heavy, sour crude to light, sweet synthetic oil upgraded from Alberta’s oil sands.
Those imports are expected to rise when two pipeline projects go online in 2010.
In August, the U.S. State Department gave the go-ahead for Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline, which will start delivering 450,000 bpd of oil sands crude into the Midwest in 2010.
The first leg of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, which also will ship oil sands bitumen to the U.S. Midwest, is under construction with completion slated for late November.
Refiners paid an average of $62.93 a barrel for imported crude supplies in July, EIA said, down 5.2 percent from June and less than half the year-earlier record level of $127.77 a barrel.
EIA, which is part of the Department of Energy, also reported U.S. oil demand in July was 4 percent below a year earlier, at 18.771 million bpd — a 13-year low for July, but the highest in any month since January.