Sources of California Oil

California is like an island in terms of oil.  It does not have long range pipelines to it.  It is now importing about half of its oil from foreign sources, and a small amount from Alaska, through its ports.  See the figures below.

The amount produced in California has been declining to 38.2% in 2011, and the amount imported from Alaska has sharply declined to 11.8%, while foreign sources has grown to 49.9%.  The amount of California oil usage at 601 million barrels a day is about 3% of total US usage at 19 million barrels a day. This is unusual since California has about 12% of the US population, 37 million out of 310 million.

The fraction of the 50% oil imports to California from leading countries is shown below.

This is again an island scenario compared to imports to the US.  The highest US imports come from Canada by pipeline, next from the East coast of Mexico in Campeche bay by  tanker to the Gulf coast, and third from Venezuela on the Gulf coast of South America.   California gets a small amount from Canada, and none from Mexico.  Instead, our main foreign oil comes from Saudi Arabia (29.0%), Ecuador (22.3%) on the Pacific Coast of South America, and Iraq (15.9%).  The top three countries supply 67% or two thirds of California’s foreign oil.  A full 47% of California’s imports comes from the Middle East.  National efforts to reduce oil from the Middle East would not be great for California.  A blockage of the Strait of Hormuz next to Iran would cut off a lot of the 47%, although there are pipelines to the West across Saudi Arabia and Iraq, if needed.  Another 40% of our foreign oil comes from South America.

A pie chart view of California oil, natural gas and electricity sources is given in the next figure.

We see that natural gas is all pipe lined in from California, from the nearby US states, and from Canada.  The Canadian natural gas is also used to heat up the thick oil from the Alberta tar sands that may flow through the Keystone XL pipeline.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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