Government forecasters say U.S. dependence on foreign oil is likely to reach historic heights in the 1990s as consumption grows and production slides.
Imports may account for more than half the nation's oil requirements by 1994, up from 37 percent last year, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday.In a forecast to the year 2000, the agency also said the projected import surge would not necessarily make the nation more vulnerable to a supply crisis.
Oil imports by 1994 may reach 9.9 million barrels a day, or 55 percent of supplies, and by the end of the century the figures could be 11 million barrels a day, or 59 percent.
The highest dependence on record was in 1977, when 46 percent of oil supplies were imported.
Many oil industry officials, particularly the smaller, independent producers hurt most by sharp drops in world oil prices since 1986, have urged the Bush administration to take action to limit the growth in oil imports.
The Energy Information Administration report said that despite the trend toward rising imports, "there is no clear and simple answer" to whether the nation was becoming more vulnerable to potential disruptions of world oil supplies.