Monthly crude oil imports of the U.S. from OPEC members have fallen to its lowest level in 33 years during the month of March this year, according to the U.S.' Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday.
The U.S.' imports of crude oil from members of OPEC in March 2019 reached 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), and marked their lowest level since March 1986, the EIA said in a statement.
"U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC members have generally fallen over the previous decade as domestic crude oil production has increased," it added.
With shale oil revolution in the U.S. that started in 2008, the country increased its crude oil production from 5 million bpd that year to an all-time highest level of 12.4 million bpd for the week ending May 31, 2019, according to the EIA data.
In 1986, crude oil production in the U.S. stood at 8.68 million bpd, the data showed.
"From the early 1980s through the late 2000s, OPEC member countries were the source of about half of all U.S. crude oil imports. In the past decade, however, total U.S. crude oil imports have fallen and OPEC’s share of those imports has decreased," the EIA said in the statement.
"Non-OPEC countries such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have made up larger shares of U.S. crude oil imports," it added.
During the past four years, Canada alone has supplied more crude oil to the U.S. than all OPEC members combined for each of these years, according to the EIA.
For the year of 2017, for which the latest EIA data is available, the U.S.' crude oil imports from Canada averaged 4.05 million bpd, while crude imports from OPEC members totaled 3.37 million bpd, according to the EIA data.
The U.S.' sanctions on Venezuela also played a role in the decline of crude imports from OPEC, as the EIA stated that crude oil imports from OPEC members Venezuela and Iraq have fallen the most during the first three months of 2019.
"In 2018, Venezuela was the source of 505,000 bpd of U.S. crude oil imports, or 20% of the OPEC total. In March, the U.S. imported just 47,000 bpd of crude oil from Venezuela," the statement said.
The U.S. crude oil imports from other OPEC members have also been on decline since the cartel and its allies agreed on November 2016, and later on December 2018, to cut crude production in order to support oil prices.
After trimming their production, many OPEC oil producing countries preferred to export their crude to growing markets in Asia, and reduced their crude supply to the U.S., the EIA said.
"In the first three months of 2019, the volume of U.S. crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq—the two largest sources of imports from OPEC in 2018—have averaged 26% and 28% below their 2018 average levels," the statement said.
By Ovunc Kutlu