Energy Investing: Understand Imports and Exports

To make wise energy investments, you need to become familiar with the broader implications of oil import and export data. It’s not hard to see how production and consumption come together to form a global oil market. All you have to do is look at imports and exports. This data reveals how well a country is sating its own demand or, conversely, how much oil it has available for sale.

Less-industrialized countries are typically exporters, while industrialized nations are importers. Taking the pulse of global oil flows and monitoring how they change helps you make smart decisions when trading oil prices and investing in oil companies.

This table reveals the world’s top oil exporters, according to the most recent data from the EIA.

Top World Oil Exporters
Country Exports (Millions of Barrels per Day)
Saudi Arabia 8.2
Russia 7.5
United Arab Emirates 2.6
Kuwait 2.3
Nigeria 2.2
Iran 2.2
Iraq 1.8
Norway 1.8
Angola 1.8
Venezuela 1.5

And you can see the largest importers in this next table.

Top World Oil Importers
Country Imports (Millions of Barrels per Day)
United States 8.8
China 4.6
Japan 4.3
India 2.5
Germany 2.2
South Korea 2.2
France 1.7
Spain 1.4
Italy 1.3
Netherlands 1.0

One glance at these tables and many macro energy and economic trends become readily apparent:

  • The continued reliance of the United States on imports

  • The energy supply vulnerability of Europe and why it’s constantly dependent on Russia

  • The OPEC nations’ continued dominance of the export picture

  • The world’s largest economies by gross domestic product (United States, China, Japan, Germany, and France) are also the most reliant on oil imports

Getting familiar with the broader implications of oil import and export data is the foundational knowledge you need to make energy investments. In a practical way, this data also has major impacts on every sector of the global economy.

If crude prices go up, industrialized nations suddenly face much higher costs, while exporting countries generate higher revenues. Driving, transporting goods, and manufacturing items for which oil is a feedstock costs more. And you can see a direct correlation to this in the stock market. The stocks of companies that have oil as a variable cost invariably fluctuate inversely with the price of crude.

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