Many countries like to talk about energy independence, but Canada is one of the few to come close to that elusive goal. For many years, Western Canada has produced more than enough crude oil to satisfy the demand of refineries in the region. More recently, a combination of rising Western Canadian oil production, and new and reworked pipelines, has enabled many of Canada’s eastern refineries to increase their intake of Western Canadian barrels. In the few remaining cases where they can’t, imported barrels from the U.S. have filled the gap, leaving crude imports from overseas accounting for just 1% of the market. Not surprisingly, Canada is also a net exporter of refined products, with refiners in Western Canada, and especially Atlantic Canada, producing far more than the country’s demand. Today, we conclude our series on Canada’s refining sector with a look at its growing reliance on Western Canadian crude oil and its ability to meet most of Canada’s need for gasoline and distillates.
As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, development of immense conventional oil reserves and unconventional bitumen reserves from the oil sands has enabled Canada’s 17 refineries to steadily reduce their dependence on imported crude. In fact, the U.S. is now almost the exclusive provider of Canada’s remaining import needs. In Part 2, we delved into the nine refineries in Western Canada, which are supplied entirely by in-region crude oil production. In Part 3, we discussed the eight refineries in the eastern half of Canada: four in Ontario, two in Quebec, and one each in New Brunswick and Newfoundland — so that blog will be a useful reference as we continue the discussion of those refineries. Today, we conclude the series with a look at how many refineries in Eastern Canada gained increasing access to Western Canadian and U.S. crude oil — displacing imports from other overseas sources in the process — and at how important exports of refined products are to some of these same refineries.
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