Crude Oil Imports Plunge As Eagle Ford Production Surges

Foreign trade passing through the Houston-Galveston Customs District dropped during the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2012. Most of that drop came in the form of reduced imports of crude oil.

The Houston-Galveston Customs District handled more than $186 billion worth of foreign trade between January and September. That’s down more than 10% from the first nine months of last year.

Reduced imports of crude oil accounted for much of the decline — with the result that exports of goods through the customs district now exceed total imports

Patrick Jankowski is vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership. He credits crude oil production in the Eagle Ford Shale for the development.

“We’re producing so much domestic fuel, so much domestic crude, [that] we don’t need to import as much as we used to. And if you look at all the places that we imported oil from — Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria, Brazil — imports of crude from all those countries are down this time compared to last year.”

But the district also saw declines in other foreign goods, including industrial machinery, steel, and guar gum — a plant substance used in hydraulic fracturing.

Exports dropped a fraction of a percent compared to last year. The steepest declines came in outbound shipments of electrical machinery, cars, and trucks. Countering those were stronger foreign sales of grain and plastics. 


Imports Via the Houston-Galveston Customs District – $ Millions


September ’12 YTD September ’13 YTD % Change
Mineral Fuels, Oil $67,089.7 $51,206.4 -23.7%
Industrial Machinery, Including Computers 8,065.2 6,788.5 -15.8
Articles Of Iron Or Steel 7,875.8 6,049.4 -23.2
Organic Chemicals 3,614.4 4,014.4 11.1
Electric Machinery 5,283.3 3,896.3 -26.3
Vehicles 3,042.4 2,786.5 -8.4
Iron And Steel 2,105.1 1,398.7 -33.6
Gums, Resins Vegetable Extracts 2,929.6 1,314.9 -55.1
Plastics 1,063.6 1,153.1 8.4
Beverages, Spirits And Vinegar 907.3 957.5 5.5
All Other Commodities 12,503.8 13,491.8 7.9
Total Imports $114,480.6 $93,057.4 -18.7%

Data provided by WISER, at, from U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division/ Chart provided by GHP 


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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