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US Customs agency to track oil imports using blockchain tech

Yogita Khatri

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a federal agency of the Department of Homeland Security, is set to track oil and natural gas imports from Canada leveraging blockchain technology.

The department’s research and development unit, the Science and Technology Directorate, has awarded $182,700 to Canadian blockchain firm Mavennet Systems for the initiative. Mavennet will build a “blockchain-as-a-service” platform, which will enable the Customs agency to audit oil and natural gas trading markets in Canada in “real-time.”

“Mavennet’s platform could provide this digital auditability while ensuring broad interoperability by supporting emerging World Wide Web Consortium standards such as decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials,” said Anil John, technical director of the department’s silicon valley innovation program.

Canada is the fourth-largest producer of oil in the world, and the U.S. imported 3.5 million barrels of crude oil per day from Canada in 2018, 96% of all Canadian crude oil exports, according to Natural Resources Canada, the country's energy agency.

“Accurately tracking the evidence of oil flow through pipelines and refinement between the U.S. and Canada and attributing oil imports with the accurate composition and country of origin are of great interest to U.S. Customs and Border Protection," said John.

The Department of Homeland Security has been exploring blockchain technology since as early as 2015.  The department’s silicon valley innovation program was also launched around that time and awards tech startups, including blockchain, up to $800,000 to develop solutions for homeland security use cases.