The United States imported 28% more base oil last year than in 2020, and the volume surpassed 2019’s total, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. In December, base oil imports were up almost 20% compared to the same month in 2020.
In 2021, the U.S. imported 16.8 million barrels of base oil, compared to 13.2 million barrels in 2020. The 2021 total was also 3% higher than 2019’s 16.3 million barrels imported.
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December’s 1.2 million barrels imported was up 19% from the same month in 2020 and 16% shy of December 2019’s 1.5 million barrels mark.
Last year’s highest monthly base oil import volumes were 1.9 million barrels in May and 2.4 million barrels in August. The latter occurred just after the lowest import volume, 702,000 barrels, in July.
Middle East Gulf countries accounted for 6.3 million barrels of base oil imported into the U.S. last year, 31% more than in 2020. The U.S. imported 1.7 million barrels of base oil from OPEC countries in 2021, a 13% increase. U.S. base oil imports from non-OPEC countries rose 29% to 15,160 barrels last year.
The countries that exported the most base oil to the U.S. last year included Canada, Qatar, South Korea, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Bahrain.
Imports from Canada grew 48% to 3.8 million barrels.
Base oil imports from South Korea increased 4% to 3.5 million barrels last year. Imports from Indonesia were up 6% at 1.1 million barrels.
The volume imported from Qatar reached 3.7 million barrels, a 28% increase. The U.S. imported 908,000 barrels from Bahrain, a 119% jump. Imports from the Netherlands jumped 170% to 1.1 million barrels last year.