This article was published by the US Energy Information Administration on Oct. 11, 2022.
By Matt French
In the first half of 2022, U.S. crude oil production averaged 11.1 million barrels per day (b/d), up from an annual average of 10.8 million b/d in 2021. Crude oil with a higher API gravity is lighter, or less dense. Production of light crude oil with an API value greater than 45.1 degrees increased the most, while production of heavy crude oil with an API lower than 30.0 degrees declined.
Note: Density is measured using the API gravity scale.
Over the first half of 2022, U.S. production of light crude oil with an API gravity higher than 45 degrees increased by 185,000 b/d to 3.1 million b/d, accounting for 28 per cent of production in the Lower 48 states. Conversely, production of the heaviest category of crude oil with an API of 30.0 degrees or lower fell by 33,000 b/d to 1.1 million b/d in the first half of 2022, accounting for 10 per cent of production in the Lower 48 states.
The United States imported 6.3 million b/d of crude oil in the first half of 2022, up from 6.1 million b/d in 2021. Heavier grades of crude oil imports tend to be imported into the United States. In the first half of 2022, 69 per cent of U.S. crude oil imports had an API of 30.0 degrees or lower, and 22 per cent had an API between 30.1 and 35.0 degrees. The majority of U.S. crude oil imports come from Canada, which produces heavier grades of crude oil than the United States. In the first half of 2022, Canada accounted for 61 per cent of all U.S. crude oil imports.
Although large quantities of crude oil are produced in the United States, it still imports crude oil to meet domestic refining needs. Crude oils vary in qualities, including API gravity and sulphur content. Sweet crude oils have relatively low sulphur content, and sour crude oils have relatively high sulphur content. The U.S. refining complex is advanced and capable of refining heavier, more sour crude oils, which generally cost less than lighter, sweeter grades of crude oil.
Refinery crude oil slates—the mix of crude oil grades that a refinery can process into petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel—have become lighter over time. In 2005, the average API of crude oil inputs into U.S. refineries was 30.2 degrees. The average increased to 33.0 degrees in the first half of 2022.