Sunday, April 27, 2008

US Military Oil Use Abroad

WARNING: Please jump to “Note on Data Sources” if you do not want to read blah blah introduction.


The subject of this post was the reason why I decided to create a blog. My interest in the U.S. military oil consumption started a decade ago. At that time I was working at the International Energy Agency in Paris, heading non-OECD countries energy statistics section. At that time world oil markets were stunned with the big discrepancy between supply and demand. The IEA was showing over 2.1 million barrels per day (mbd) of excess supply in its statistics and oil prices were below $10 per barrel.

Shocked with the implausibility of 2.1 mbd of “unaccounted for” item, analysts all over the world (including Matthew Simmons, Robert Mabro and George S. Littell) and especially the U.S. Energy Information Administration were investigating what has become the famous “ missing barrels” phenomenon. I was asked to investigate the issue as well and was sent to EIA to analyze their data. When I came back I wrote a report to the upper management which was nearly ridiculed. I was basically saying that there was no “missing barrels” but rather there is “missing statistics.” The main reason I said in my report is the incorrectly, improperly, outdated, implausible and misuse of conversion factors applied barrel/ton conversion factors. One of the top executive told me that the reason cannot be that “simple.” Yes, it was that simple. During my investigations and talks with the officials at the EIA/DOE I found out that the US military oil consumption abroad does not show up any where in the world oil demand. But how much was the U.S. military consuming abroad?

That was my mistake. I could not find the answer. Nobody new! I thought I could find some data if I could bring some figures together by asking statistical offices of countries where there is a U.S. military base. Some countries in Asia were very helpful. They told me that they show all fuel deliveries to US military bases in their country as EXPORTS. Cool, I said. If I look at the outstanding EIA statistics on imports from that country I could get some information. I was wrong! The EIA data was not showing any IMPORTS. What happened to that fuel? Well, lost in statistics. I gave up that approach.

Then, I have started to read all Department of Defense publications related to energy. So it became a hobby. I admit that it is a strange hobby to have. I constructed a database fed by all the numbers I could find from those publications (books, reports, thesis, and military journals), presentations, testimonies, news release etc. In the beginnings it was fine because there were not that many things to read every week. But recently energy has become such a hot topic at the DoD that I have from time to time difficulties to catch up. I probably don’t miss any publicly available information about energy (oil in particular) and DoD but I fail to read them all. In other words, my hobby started to take too much time. All my readings in the beginnings were bed time readings (I usually don’t read novels and am not TV addicted). Then, I have started to spend my weekends with them. Lost in information overload, I decided to write a 16 page article on the US military consumption. I send the first version to two journals. They told me that I am not a military expert and my claims cannot be verified. They are right. So, I started to write a larger article. Never finished, because the article became almost a book. And the more pages I added the more disorganized the text has become. So, I gave up. No article, no book. So I started to post from time to time on my blog.

Now, back to the original question. How much does the U.S. military consume abroad? I still have no clear idea. My modest database has turned into a directory of Excel files compared to one Excel file a decade ago.

Note On Data Sources

There is no single data source. You can not find any number pronounced by any US official concerning the total US military oil consumption abroad. Therefore I explain below how I came up with my estimates.

Primary sources: DoD Federal Energy Management Reports, DoD Defense Energy Support Center Factbooks, Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports, EIA Annual Energy Reviews and GSA Federal Fleet Reports.

Those data require an extensive cross checking and data mining. Good luck to any one who which to do what I have done.

My Assumptions:

I assigned 80% of fuel of to CONUS (continental US in military jargon) and 20% to OCONUS (outside CONUS) arbitrarily. I do not know how much of the over 700 US military bases are located outside the US and how much fuel they consume). In fact we don’t know how many US military really exist. The ones given in the Base Structure Report of the DoD list only military bases either owned or leased by the DoD.

In any case majority of the oil is consumed by tactical vehicles. I assigned all military aviation and marine bunker fuels to OCONUS.

Unaccounted for item refers to the discrepancy between DESC fuel sales and DoD FEMR report. I presume that DESC figures should include the delivery of the fuel as well because FEMR figures mean site delivered fuel consumption.

My estimates include non-tactical vehicles, i.e., fleet vehicles such as trucks, passenger cars, SUVs etc.


I estimated long time ago that the US military consumes 56 kbd of oil in Iraq and Afghanistan. (see . Official figures show 51.2 kbd for Fiscal year 2007: 42 kbd in Iraq and 9.1 kbd in Afghanistan. Note that those figures DO NOT include fuel consumption of Navy ships and aircraft as well as unpaid (or in kind) fuel consumed in Iraq.

Total US military oil consumption went up from 295 kbd in 2000 to 363 kbd in 2007.

OCONUS oil consumption (oil consumed abroad) accounted for 50% of total US military oil consumption in 2007, compared to only one-third in the year 2000. In 2005, this share was 56%.

The US military oil consumption abroad was 180 kbd in 2007.

Tags: Military Energy Consumption, Department of Defense, US Military, Military Oil Consumption


At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for your work and great posts.

At 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you very much for the share.
now people suffering from the lack of oil and high oil price, especially people in my country, which is still a develop country. T_T


Post a Comment

<< Home