Most ND oil, oil-related products go to Canada

This graphic shows North Dakota exports with and without oil from 2000-2016.

FARGO – Nearly all of North Dakota’s oil and oil-related products go to Canada, according to the head of the U.S. Commercial Office in Fargo.

“99.5 percent of North Dakota’s oil-related products went to Canada and 88 percent of this was crude, with the rest being other oil-related products,” said Heather Ranck, international trade specialist, office director and global rural team leader with the U.S. Commercial Office in Fargo.

Ranck said North Dakota’s next biggest market for crude oil is Mexico with .45 percent.

After oil, the next highest products being exported are as follows, according to Ranck:

1) front end shovel loaders (aka. skid loaders).

2) Denatured ethyl alcohol (ethanol), with $101 million in exports in 2016, a 46 percent increase over 2015. 100 percent of this went to Canada.

3) Wheat, with $100 million in exports in 2016, a 41 percent decrease over 2015 (with 40+ percent decreases in exports to Mexico, Panama, Nigeria and Colombia; and a 488 percent increase in exports to Venezuela in 2016).

4) Tractors (exports of tractors remained almost the same as 2015).

5) Yellow dent corn with $88 million in exports, a 7 percent increase over 2015 and going mainly to Canada

“Export figures are very dependent on macroeconomic conditions, and the strong U.S. dollar has made U.S. goods more expensive in foreign markets, which makes it more challenging for U.S. goods to compete against products from other countries,” said Ranck. “Low commodity prices also significantly affect purchases of both our crops and our agricultural equipment. Such conditions are always temporary and will rebound eventually. Smart companies prepare during down times for the next boom cycle.”

“The most important thing is to realize that the oil exports are distorting our ‘true’ exports, but they must be understandably be counted because the oil is leaving the territory of the United States. The other consistency is that we are part of a very global economy and what happens on a national level and in other parts of the world have a very significant impact on our local producers and manufacturers,” Ranck said.

ND exports up 2 percent in 2016

In a news release issued in February, the U.S. Commercial Service office reported:

North Dakota exported $3.95 billion in 2016, a 2 percent increase over 2015, attributed mostly to more oil going through Canada.

Without oil, North Dakota’s exports decreased by 13.73 percent in 2016 over 2015, while U.S. exports decreased 3.38 percent.

North Dakota rose two spots in its ranking among U.S. states, from 42nd to 44th largest exporter among the 50 states.

In 2016, crude oil made up 42.19 percent of total exports from North Dakota.

Several of North Dakota’s other top exported products saw declines in 2016, including self-propelled dozers, tractors and wheat. Bright spots include export increases of 25 percent for dried peas and lentils, 46 percent in ethanol, 20 percent in biodiesel and a rebounding of exports of ag machinery to Russia. There was an 8 percent decline in the number of unique items exported from North Dakota, from 1,436 items in 2015 to 1,328 in 2016.

Canada continues to be North Dakota’s number one export destination, taking in $3 billion, or 77 percent of North Dakota’s total exports (an 11.73 percent increase over 2015).

Mexico is the second largest market for North Dakota products, importing $251 million (6 percent of N.D.’s total exports). Exports into Mexico decreased by 14.75 percent, caused primarily by a decrease in wheat exports.

North Dakota’s top six export markets after Canada all saw declining import values from the previous year.

The U.S. Commercial Service is the lead trade promotion agency of the U.S. government. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in more than 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets.

Staff of international trade specialists will help companies:

– Identify and evaluate international partners

– Navigate international documentation challenges

– Create market entry strategies

– Other export related guidance

A full-time trade specialist (Ranck) was posted in North Dakota in March 2005 and the office became an official U.S. Commercial Office in 2007, Ranck said. Ranck has been with the office throughout the time, based in Fargo, and covering all of North Dakota and nine counties of northwest Minnesota.

The office actively assists more than 120 different North Dakota or northwestern Minnesota companies resolve around 300 different trade matters a year.

The U.S. Commercial Service has been directly involved with hundreds of export transactions since 2005, representing millions of dollars in new sales for North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The types of companies using the services vary from agricultural machinery manufacturers, to aviation companies, to higher educational institutions.

“We provide one-on-one help to companies that want to sell products and services overseas, using our network of offices based in U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world,” Ranck said.

For information on the U.S. Commercial Service, call the U.S. Commercial Service office at 239-5080 or email or