The U.S. imported more crude oil from Africa than the Middle East for the first time in 21 years in 2006, according to government data.
U.S. crude imports were down 0.3% in 2006 from the year before, according to Energy Information Administration data - though 2005's import numbers were inflated by hurricanes' disruption of GulfCoast operations that year.
Africa and the Middle East each accounted for 22% of U.S. crude imports, with Africa leading by a narrow 8,000 barrels a day. The 2.23 million barrels a day from Africa was the most since 1979 and 4.8% more than in 2005. Africa made up less than 13% of U.S. crude imports as recently as 2002.
The growing Asian market, led by an expected 6.2% increase in demand in China, is drawing much of the Middle East's oil.
Canada remains the top U.S. crude oil supplier and Mexico remained second despite a drop in output.