Canadian heavy oil exports to the US reach a record 3 million bbl/day
According to the National Energy Board (NEB), Canadian heavy oil exports to the US surged over 200,000 bbl/day in March to almost 3 million bbl/day.
While heavy oil exports to the Midwest (PADD 2) have been relatively stable in the past few years, exports to the Gulf Coast (PADD 3) have increased dramatically, rising from about 110,000 bbl/day in the middle of 2014 to 680,000 bbl/day this past spring.
The Gulf Coast has a refining capacity of almost 10 million bbl/day and is the world's largest market for heavy sour crude. Pipeline access from Alberta to the region is currently constrained, relying mainly on TransCanada's 590,000 bbl/day Keystone pipeline and crude-by-rail. Some canadian crude volumes funnelled into the Midwest are also redirected to the Gulf Coast, mostly via the Cushing storage terminal in Oklahoma. Construction of the 830,000 bbl/day Keystone XL pipeline, would significantly improve access to the region.
Exports to the Rocky Mountains region (PADD 4) also hit a record 300,000 bbl/day in March. PADD 4 is served primarily by the Express and Milk River pipelines. Last month, Cenovus Energy admitted it was trucking diluted bitumen from its in-situ operations near Christina Lake, to a refinery in Colorado.
While exports of heavy oil to the US are on the rise, exports of light oil have been falling, dropping from over 700,000 bbl/day in mid-2015 to less than 400,000 bbl/day earlier in the first quarter of this year.
Canadian crude export data is updated monthly by the NEB, two months in arrears.