It is a pleasure to welcome you to this second Annual Meeting of the Division of Production of API.
We are honored today to have outstanding leaders from both government and industry. They will cover, I am sure, broad, areas of interest that will influence both the immediate and long-range future of our industry. This meeting -- with these speakers, at this point in time, and in this place -- is, I believe, particularly significant .
The State of Texas during March will produce about 3.4 million barrels of crude oil daily at a MDF of 86.0 percent. At this rate, the State still has some remaining additional producing capacity. However, Texas and Louisiana, the two states with virtually all the excess capacity for the U.S., have less than one-half million barrels per day of spare capacity under existing rules and regulations. This capacity is declining due to the depletion of existing reserves.
I do not want to preempt Mr. McLean, who will address the energy problem in depth, but already we are supplying about one-fourth of our total petroleum liquid requirements with foreign imports. With our near term requirements now growing at about 5 percent per year , or about three quarters of a million barrels per day, it is apparent that we are virtually at capacity with little if any spare for emergencies or continued growth. Mr. John McLean, and perhaps others, will speak more authoritatively on our dependence on external sources of supply.
I have alluded so far only to our diminished capability in oil production. Perhaps it is unnecessary to point out that gas producers now are principally concerned with fulfilling commitments already made. Present exploratory opportunities, under today's policies which limit prices for gas sold in interstate commerce and limit the pace of new exploration activities in Federal waters, preclude much thought for expanding gas markets.
My point in these introductory remarks is to emphasize the challenge that now faces all who have a responsibility in these matters. Our national energy problems are serious, and the outlook is not bright if present policies continue. Somehow we must convince and inform the public and the government of the need for action.
One of the key problems that must be faced and solved is the environmental issue. The need to establish adequate and consistent ground rules for environmental protection is amply illustrated by the delays encountered in the development of important reserves in Alaska and offshore California. Failure to anticipate and develop solutions to the environmental issues inherent in oil and gas exploration and development, laying of pipelines, installation of deepwater terminals, and new refinery construction will only result in continued delays and uncertainty -- with a consequent weakening of industry's ability to supply the fuel needs of our citizens. Our energy and environmental problems are interrelated .