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US Oil Suppliers Assessed

The US gets 60% of its imported oil from countries
which are neither free nor stable. Click on map for more details.

Studies Take A Close and Detailed Look
at Freedom, War, Corruption and Instability

July 24, 2013 -- Most of the oil that the United States imports comes from countries that are less than free, relatively unstable, perceived as corrupt and suffering from noticeable problems with war or violence.

Global Resources News has collated four major political indices and matched them with the volume of net imports of oil from the subject countries.

Of the 8.683 million barrels of the net imports that flow into the US each day from 51 countries, 5.29 million (60 percent) come from nations that score poorly on all the indicators. A few more exporting countries score poorly on most of them.

The countries were measured on freedom using the Freedom House Freedom Status designation. Their stability was indicated by the Failed State Index. The Corruption Perception Index ranked the countries for financial integrity, and the Global Peace Index provided a perspective on how much the countries were subject to violence.

Many of the countries assessed in this report have clusters of bad scores among the assessments. A country that is unstable is also likely to be violent and corrupt. Countries adjudged to be free tend to score very well on stability factors and tend to be more peaceful.

However, countries that score well are not without serious problems. These indices were chosen by as a method of comparing countries based on concise indicators, and the indicators reflect events of 2012. Countries with good scores may have incipient problems that are yet to be reflected in the scores and rankings. (The section on Canada below illustrates this point.) Further, a country that scores badly in one year may improve over time.

Major Suppliers

Of the top 12 importers to the United States only one, Canada, is considered free, stable, honest and at peace. The other 11 countries fare badly in these categories.

The largest producers among these 11 are Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Iraq.

Click here for a table of
political assessments of US oil suppliers.
In this set, only Saudi Arabia has a comparatively high ranking in the Failed States Index (FSI), but even so its ranking fares poorly when placed in an international context. The Fund for Peace, which produces the FSI, puts Saudi Arabia in its "High Warning" category. Saudi Arabia exports 1.3 million barrels a day to the US. The desert kingdom, which borders Iraq and Yemen, has an above median ranking for peacefulness, but that spot on the Global Peace Index places it no higher than the "Medium" category.

Iraq, by far, scores and ranks the worst of the large exporters to the US (474,000 barrels per day). It has the 11th worst stability ranking in the world. Its corruption ranking of 18 is far below the 50th place mark, which is considered the threshold of serious problems by Transparency International, the organization that compiles the Corruption Perception Index. Despite having been freed from the dictator Saddam Hussein by foreign intervention, Iraq is still regarded as "Not Free" by Freedom House. It is among the most violent, least peaceful countries in the world, its 159th ranking close to last on the Global Peace Index. Only Syria, Somalis and Afghanistan score worse.

After Iraq, the other US oil supplier that scores very badly on all counts is Nigeria (419,000 barrels per day to the US). It is considered partly free, but is not much more stable than Iraq. It is perceived as being about as corrupt as Russia, and almost as violent as Colombia.

Venezuela (867,000 barrels per day) and Mexico (469,000 barrels) are considered only partly free by Freedom House, and they receive a "High Warning" on the Failed State Index. Venezuela is considered almost as corrupt as Iraq, and Mexico's financial integrity is on par with Saudi Arabia's.

In turn, Colombia (357,000 barrels) is considered only partly free. It receives a "Very High Warning" from the Failed State Index, and is perceived to be about as corrupt as Mexico. Ecuador (115,000 barrels per day) is very similar to Colombia in its rankings, although it is considered somewhat more stable than Colombia in the Failed State Index.

Arab Spring Countries

The oil-exporting nations of North Africa which have been engaged in the Arab Spring supply relatively modest, but not insignifcant, amounts of oil the United States. Their recent political histories are reflected in how they perform in these political indices.

Egypt had not experienced the removal of its president when the various indicators were complied. But the events prior to that ouster bore badly on its scores as the new nation emerged.

Egypt exports 27,000 barrels to the United States. It is only partly freed. It suffers from an "Alert" status in the Failed State Index, which means it is only two categories away from being ranked with Somalia and Afghanistan.

Libya (60,000 barrels to the US) and Tunisia (2,000 barrels) have "Very High Alert" and "High Alert" assessments for their stability. Libya is considered to be siginificantly more violent, but both countries rank poorly on the Corruption Perception Index.


Canada, the United Kingdom, and the three Scandanavian countries export the lion's share of the oil that US receives from peaceful, stable and free trading partners.

But Canada dominates this group by far. The largest foreign supplier to the US, it exports 2.5 million barrels of oil a day to its southern neighbor.

Canada is the 11th most stable country in the world (the Scandanavians control the three best spots in that ranking). It is the 8th most peaceful country, according to the Global Peace Index, and enjoys one of the best reputations in the world for financial integrity.

However, oil-related events are blotting an otherwise enviable record.

Amnesty International, a think tank that evaluates human rights and justice issues in the world, reported numerous grievances by the Indiginous People of Canada, including a major pipeline spill on native territories in northern Alberta.

Further, Canadian Indians, referred to as First Nation peoples, have campaigned hard against the ecological degradation brought about by the surface mining for tar sand bitumen and a proposal to build a pipeline to the Pacific through lands that have long been held by the First Nation through treaties.

Further, a recent study based on Freedom of Information requests found that fewer than one percent of many reported environmental concerns had received any enforcement action in the tar sands area of Alberta.

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