Blog Post

Mapping the Global Ebb and Flow of Oil

The U.S. has imported millions of barrels of oil every day for more than three decades — but the flow of dollars and fuel has fluctuated over time. How to illustrate such a massive amount of trade over time? With a new map from the Rocky Mountain Institute and, which visually lays out all the data related to the oil imported into this country from 1973 onward. Admittedly, we always love a good map (101 Cleantech Startups, Biofuels Deathwatch or Coal Deathwatch, anyone?), but this one ranks among the infographic elite. Note, it’s only a screenshot that follows below (thicker lines mean more oil produced or imported).

rmi-oil-mapFrom the blog:

The map highlights 5 eras of oil consumption, from the oil shocks of the 1970s to the price collapse in the 1980s to recent events including Hurricane Katrina and gas approaching $5 per gallon before retreating rapidly recently. (You can see these selections by clicking on the buttons below the map on the RMI website.) One interesting time period is from 1982 to 1985, when low prices caused oil imports from the Middle East to decline to very low levels. The map also looks at potential oil from offshore drilling and exploration of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).