Oil Imports

August 11, 1950

Report Outline
Agitation for Restriction of Oil Imports
Oil Imports and Oil and Coal Industries
Oil Imports and Interests of United States
Special Focus

Agitation for Restriction of Oil Imports

Pressure Congress to Curb Inflow of Foreign Oil

Shipment into the United States of a rapidly rising volume of petroleum from Latin America and the Middle East has brought vigorous demands for import restrictions from domestic independent oil producers and the bituminous coal industry. Imports of foreign oil, which in the prewar years 1935–39 averaged only 153,000 barrels a day, increased from 311,000 barrels daily in 1945 to 641,000 barrels daily in 1949 and climbed to 800,000 barrels daily in the first quarter of 1950. At the latter rate, the imported petroleum was supplying about 13 per cent of the oil market in the United States as against less than 4.5 per cent before the war.

Pressure for action to curb such imports became insistent last year when the inflow of foreign oil continued to mount despite a decline in domestic production, and when oil imports exceeded oil exports for the second straight year following more than a quarter-century of net oil exports. On Sept. 15, 1949, when the Senate was considering a bill to renew the Trade Agreements Act, it rejected by a margin of only one vote an amendment by Sen. Thomas (D., Okla.) to limit petroleum imports in each quarterly period to 5 per cent of the domestic demand in the corresponding period of the preceding year. In the months since the Thomas amendment failed of adoption, a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress to establish oil import quotas or to curb imports by substantially raising the rate of the excise tax collected on oil imports since 1932. Meanwhile, the question of oil imports in its various aspects has been under investigation by a number of House and Senate committees.

Complaints about the situation originated with domestic oil producers, who contended that the rising tide of imports not only was seriously affecting their business but, if continued unchecked, would discourage the new exploration and development of oil resources needed to maintain reserves adequate for the nation's expanding economy and the requirements of a war emergency. The oil producers were soon joined by both management and labor spokesmen for the bituminous coal industry, who protested that the inflow of residual fuel oil was displacing coal consumption to a substantial extent and thereby injuring the coal industry and coal-carrying railroads and causing unemployment among miners and railroad workers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oil and Gasoline Prices
Jun. 22, 2012  U.S. Oil Dependence
Nov. 01, 2011  Future of the Gulf States
Jan. 04, 2008  Oil Jitters Updated
Jul. 2007  Energy Nationalism
Sep. 30, 2005  Domestic Energy Development
Jan. 24, 2003  Oil Diplomacy
Aug. 07, 1998  Oil Production in the 21st Century
Aug. 23, 1991  Oil Imports
Oct. 30, 1987  Persian Gulf Oil
Apr. 04, 1986  Oil Prices
Dec. 23, 1983  Quest for Energy Independence
Sep. 23, 1983  OPEC: 10 Years After the Arab Oil Boycott
May 29, 1981  Western Oil Boom
Aug. 25, 1978  Oil Imports
Feb. 10, 1978  Oil Antitrust Action
Dec. 17, 1976  Alaskan Development
May 17, 1974  Arab Oil Money
Mar. 15, 1974  Oil Taxation
Jul. 18, 1973  Offshore Oil Search
Mar. 28, 1973  Persian Gulf Oil
Nov. 01, 1972  Gasoline Prices
Oct. 14, 1970  Fuel Shortages
Nov. 12, 1969  Alaskan Oil Boom
Dec. 11, 1968  Oil Shale Development
Oct. 26, 1960  World Oil Glut
Sep. 10, 1958  Middle East Oil
Oct. 30, 1951  Oil Nationalization
Aug. 11, 1950  Oil Imports
Apr. 23, 1947  Oil of the Middle East
Jan. 22, 1946  Offshore Oil
Mar. 09, 1944  Oil Supply
Dec. 24, 1935  Oil in World Politics
May 07, 1931  Control of Production in the Oil Industry
Mar. 27, 1929  The Oil Leasing Policy of the New Administration
Jun. 08, 1927  Oil Conservation and Stabilization
Feb. 08, 1926  The Mexican Land and Petroleum Laws
Apr. 18, 1925  The Price of Gasoline
Feb. 11, 1924  Background of the Oil Lease Cases
Sep. 01, 1923  Gasoline
Exports and Imports
Import Quotas and Customs
Oil and Natural Gas