Do you know where your oil comes from?
Canadian oil production has been growing steadily since 2009, thanks largely to expansion of the Alberta oil sands. Canada produced topped 4.25 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and petroleum products by the end of 2014, an increase of 8% from the previous year.
Canadian oil consumption is a different story. Numbers have been relatively flat in recent years, and actually declined 0.5% in 2014 to approximately 2.37 million bpd. That leaves Canada with a surplus of just under 2 million bpd, which is predicted to rise over the next decade.
With all this extra oil sloshing around this country, Canada should be energy-independent and should have no need for crude oil imports. But logistical bottlenecks and political constraints make it difficult to move oil produced in Alberta to the refining hubs in southern Ontario and Quebec, resulting in a serious import/export imbalance.
Most Canadian already know that we import over 800,000 bpd of crude oil and refined products from the US, who similarly face their own logistical and political constraints. But other sources of Canadian oil imports are not as well advertised. Canada imports over 350,000 bpd of oil from Russia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, transported by tanker from overseas into Quebec, Ontario and East Coast refineries. This is more than double the oil exported from Canada to Europe and Asia.
A big part of the imbalance is the fact that oil export by tanker faces serious opposition from environmental groups, who have expressed little concern over the harmful effects of oil presently imported by tanker. Ironically, if oil produced in Western Canada could be pipelined to Eastern Canada, the need for more expensive oil imports from overseas would drop to zero, and all those tankers coming through the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be completely eliminated. Food for thought.