In this article, we are going to discuss the 25 countries that import the most oil in 2023. You can skip our detailed analysis of the global oil and gas market, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global energy landscape, and the steps taken by major oil companies to achieve net zero by 2050, and go directly to 10 Countries that Import the Most Oil in 2023.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the global oil market was dominated by a group of multinational, Anglo-American companies known as the ‘Seven Sisters’. And so in hopes of exerting more authority over their own resources, the petroleum-rich nations of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela banded together and created OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) at the Baghdad Conference in 1960. These countries realized they had a non-renewable resource, and if they competed against each other, the price of oil would drop too far, eventually causing them to run out of their precious but finite commodity even sooner.
Currently, the organization comprises 13 members, with Saudi Arabia being the largest producer, contributing almost one-third of the total OPEC oil production. In 2021, OPEC estimated that 80% of the world’s proven crude oil reserves were located in its member countries, giving the organization significant influence over the global energy landscape.
Global Oil and Gas Market:
As we mentioned in our article – 15 States With the Most Expensive Gas in the US – the global oil and gas market was valued at $6.99 trillion in 2022, and is expected to grow to $8.67 trillion by 2027, with a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period. The largest region in the global oil and gas market share is Asia Pacific, with North America coming in second.
The primary factors driving the growth of the industry include the rising demand for oil and gas, growing competition in the industry, financial capital, and public scrutiny. Furthermore, the rising oil and gas exploration activities and the increase in prices globally are also anticipated to drive the industry’s growth.
Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War:
Following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Western policymakers promised to respond to the Kremlin with ‘sanctions from hell’. Yet, the so-called hell is yet to be seen.
Last December, the U.S., along with the E.U., the G7, and Australia imposed a $60 per barrel limit on what Russia could charge for its oil. The cap was designed to deprive the Putin administration of revenue to fund its aggression in Ukraine, forcing it to either sell its oil at a discount or find a costly alternative shipping network.
Although the initial blow from the sanctions led to a $25 billion deficit in the Russian budget at the beginning of the year, the effects have faded dramatically, as the Kremlin has subsequently learnt to better circumvent those sanctions by pivoting away from western shipping and services. It has done so by using a vast shadow fleet of tankers that have unclear ownership and insurance status, and so the $60 price cap is not always respected. As a result of that, combined with a favorable price dynamic, the Russian state’s energy revenues have more than doubled to $17.63 billion from September to October this year.
One of the biggest players to have made the most of this situation is China. The East Asian behemoth has been importing record volumes of oil this year despite a weak economy, as it takes advantage of cheap Russian crude to build stockpiles and export refined products. In the first half of this year, China imported 2.13 million barrels per day (bdp) of oil from Russia, ahead of 1.88 million bpd from Saudi Arabia, making Russia the top crude supplier to China so far this year. To avoid violating Western sanctions, Chinese refiners use intermediary traders to handle shipping and insurance of Russian crude.
This goes to show how the war in Europe has implications that go far beyond the battlefield, thus creating new geopolitical alliances and leading to one of the largest shifts in the global energy market in decades.
Oil Majors Going Green:
As climate catastrophes continue to escalate, the urgency to reach net zero emissions is becoming more critical than ever. As a result, following the roadmap of the International Energy Agency, a growing number of oil and gas companies have committed to achieving net zero by 2050.
Among these key players is also The Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) – the largest oil producer in the U.S. – which announced its goal last year to cut greenhouse gas emissions at its oil and gas operations to net zero by 2050, as it responds to investor pressure to clean up its business in the face of climate change. The oil giant said that it would eliminate the routine flaring of natural gas and methane leaks from its facilities and use renewables to power operations. Moreover, the Texas-based company is also investing $17 billion over a six-year span through 2027 in lower carbon emissions technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, and hydrogen.
In fact, The Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has already taken significant steps to minimize its carbon footprint over the last few years, including evaluating the potential impact of its emissions to the communities where it operates. From 2016 to 2021, the total reportable emissions of volatile organic compounds, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides decreased by approximately 24% at operated assets. The company also recycled nearly 100 million barrels of water in 2021, which enabled it to offset almost half of its water needs for fracking operations.
The Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) ranks among the Best November Dividend Stocks to Buy.
Similarly, in 2021, the Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) also set the ambitious target to cut operational emissions to net zero by 2050, and has already implemented various measures to reduce its carbon emissions, including investing in blue and green hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration, offsets, geothermal and nuclear energy, and restoring coastal and marine habitats to ensure they continue to draw CO2 from the air. The company has pledged to invest $10 billion by 2028 to reduce its carbon footprint.
Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) believes that implementing a global carbon pricing system is the key incentive for driving low-carbon investments and scaling up energy transition technologies. The idea of taxing carbon emissions through a ‘cap-and-trade’ system is widely supported in some major markets like Europe and the U.K., but remains a political controversy in others, notably the United States. Chevron’s commitment to utilizing existing and emerging energy solutions and services demonstrates its dedication to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future.
Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) sits among the Best Warren Buffett Stock Picks for Beginners.
With that said, here are the Top Importers of Oil in 2023.
A worker measuring crude oil inside a rail tank car.
To collect data for this article, we have referred to the UN Comtrade Database, looking for the Top Oil Importing Countries in the World. The following countries have been ranked by the value of their total crude oil imports (HS Code 2709) in 2022. Since oil consumption doesn’t change very much from year to year unless there is a big economic change, the relative ordering of the countries remains generally the same also in 2023.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $7.35 billion
Finland has no known resources of coal, crude oil, or natural gas, and as a result, around 44% of its energy needs are met through imports. The Northern European nation was highly dependent on Russian oil imports for its requirements, but since the invasion of Ukraine, Finland has replaced Russian Urals with oil from Norway, U.K., and the U.S.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $7.37 billion
Australian oil production has been in decline since 2009 as new reserve developments have failed to match the rate of depletion in existing fields, and so The Land Down Under is reliant on imports for around 91% of its fuel consumption.
Australia has also prohibited the import, purchase, or transport of Russian oil, gas, refined petroleum products, and coal since April 2022.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $7.76 billion
In Portugal, the consumption of fuel during the first four months of this year hit a record for the past decade, increasing 19% compared to the same period last year, putting the country among the Top Crude Oil Importers.
Portuguese oil company Galp Energia posted a record full-year profit of $1.64 billion in 2022, mainly due to higher oil prices and refining margins.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $9.75 billion
With almost no domestic crude or condensate production, Israel has been importing around 300,000 b/d of crude this year, mostly from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Earlier this month, there were calls from the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to place an oil embargo on Israel following the Gaza conflict, however, OPEC has planned no urgent action on the matter.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $10.15 billion
Though Brazil is the Top Oil Producer in Latin America, the country continues to import petroleum products to meet the rising domestic demand and to compensate for its fuel price subsidies. Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant Petrobras also has to compete with importers and its next five-year strategic plan will focus on making the country self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel production.
Brazil is the Largest Oil Importer in South America.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $11.46 billion
With rising domestic demand and maturing oil fields, Indonesia became a net importer of oil in 2004. The archipelagic state does not have any international oil pipelines and only a few domestic ones, so maritime trade is an important part of its petroleum market.
Indonesia is counted among the Top 20 Oil Importers in the World.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $12.21 billion
Malaysia is one of the Largest Oil Producing Countries in Asia, with production of approximately 567,000 bpd in 2022, a decrease of 8.8% from 2020. The Southeast Asian nation’s energy security strategy has always been to export its premium Tapis sweet crude oil and import low-grade oil to refine in its downstream facilities.
Malaysia also ranks among the Countries with the Cheapest Gas Prices.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $14.99 billion
Sweden does not produce any oil of its own and in June 2022, the Swedish parliament passed a law banning any new licenses for the exploration of new oil and gas reserves in the country. The Scandinavian country imported around $14.99 billion worth of crude oil last year, with most of it coming from Norway.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden significantly reduced its imports of Russian crude oil.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $15.7 billion
Since Greece has very little domestic production, crude oil is the country’s largest import product, accounting for 15% of the country’s overall imports in 2021.
Greece decided to impose a windfall tax on its two oil refineries at the end of last year, expecting to raise around $690.82 million. The country wants to use the tax proceeds to help households with their monthly food expenses. As a result, Greece sits among the Countries with the Highest Gas Prices.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $16.52 billion
While Canada produces more oil than required to meet its domestic refining needs, some refineries import crude oil for a variety of reasons, such as higher transportation costs, limited pipeline access, and the inability of refineries to process WCSB heavy crude oil.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $16.65 billion
With very limited domestic reserves, Poland is highly dependent on crude oil imports to meet its energy needs. Though the Central European country halted its coal and gas imports from Russia last year, it still continued to import Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline under a long-term contract.
In February, Russia unilaterally ended those oil supplies to Poland, prompting the Polish state energy giant, Orlen, to announce legal action against the Russians.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $23.57 billion
As a refining hub, Belgium depends heavily on imports of crude oil while the refining sector allows the country to produce and export a large number of oil products. Petrofina SA is the largest oil company in Belgium.
Belgium sits among the Top 15 Crude Oil Importing Countries in 2023.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $34.01 billion
Singapore is counted among the Countries with the Largest Refining Capacity. Since the country has no oil reserves of its own, it’s highly dependent on imports, mostly from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. With a nameplate capacity of around 592,000 bpd, Singapore Refinery is Exxon’s largest in the world.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $34.71 billion
France is the first country to ban production and exploration of oil and natural gas by 2040. While production was very low at the time of the ban in 2017, oil and natural gas output has continued to decline since then.
France currently has seven operating oil refineries, with a total capacity of about 1.15 million bpd.
Total Oil Imports in 2022: $39.08 billion
With its tourism industry making a strong recovery last year, Thailand had a very strong demand for crude oil, and with diminishing indigenous reserves, the country is heavily reliant on imports.
Approximately 32.68 billion liters of crude oil imported by Thailand in 2022 came from the Middle East, with another 6.79 billion from the Far East.
Thailand ranks 11th in our list of the Largest Importers of Oil.
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Disclosure: None. 25 Countries that Import the Most Oil in 2023 is originally published on Insider Monkey.