The Truth-O-Meter Says:

"America owns 3 percent of the world’s oil but consumes 25 percent of its global reserves."

Gerry Connolly on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 in a House floor speech

Gerry Connolly says U.S. owns 3 percent of world’s oil but consumes 25 percent

During a House floor speech on May 3, 2011, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., addressed the recent jump in gasoline prices, saying that energy independence and lower gasoline prices will come from higher automobile fuel efficiency and new sources of domestic energy, including wind, solar and biofuels.

In making the argument, Connolly cited a statistic showing how out-of-proportion the United States’ oil consumption is.

"America owns 3 percent of the world’s oil but consumes 25 percent of its global reserves," Connolly said.

We thought we’d check his statistic.

We turned to the Energy Information Administration, the federal clearinghouse for energy statistics.

For the first part of Connolly’s statement -- "America owns 3 percent of the world’s oil" -- we turned to a table showing proven reserves of crude oil internationally.

For 2009 -- the most recent year with full data available -- the United States had proven reserves of slightly under 20.7 billion barrels, compared with more than 1.34 trillion barrels for the world as a whole. That works out to be 1.5 percent of the world total -- about half of what Connolly said, but still a small percentage of the global total.

As for the second part of his statement -- that the U.S. "consumes 25 percent of (the world’s) global reserves" -- we found an EIA table showing international oil consumption.

For 2009, the U.S. consumed 18.8 million barrels a day, compared with 84.3 million barrels a day for the world as a whole. That works out to 22 percent -- a little low, but once again, in the right ballpark.

When we checked with Connolly’s office, they sent us a few documents with figures more in line with the ones the congressman had cited, but when we looked at them, we noticed that they cited statistics from between 1999 and 2004. So we’ll stick with our numbers.

Bottom line: Connolly’s numbers are a little low because they are out of date, but his general point -- the U.S. consumes a disproportionate share of the world’s oil -- is valid. We rate his statement Mostly True.

About this statement:

Published: Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.

Subjects: Energy


Gerry Connolly, House floor speech, May 3, 2011

Energy Information Administration, "Crude Oil Proved Reserves," accessed May 4, 2011

Energy Information Administration, "World Oil Balance," accessed May 4, 2011

Interview with George Burke, communications director for Rep. Gerry Connolly, May 4, 2011

Written by: Louis Jacobson
Researched by: Louis Jacobson
Edited by: Martha M. Hamilton

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