This article was published by the Canada Energy Regulator on July 28, 2021.
Canadian crude oil export volumes have increased at a similar pace to production over the past decade.
Figure 1 shows the volumes of crude oil produced and exported from Canada (mostly from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin). Since 2015, the volume of crude oil exported from Canada has been about 80 per cent of yearly production.(1) From 2015 to 2020, Canada’s crude oil production increased by 16 per cent, or 0.61 million barrels per day (MMb/d), and exports increased by 21 per cent or 0.63 MMb/d. Since 2010, the proportion of exports to production has also increased. The volume of crude oil exported was 69 per cent of production in 2010, 79 per cent in 2015, and 82 per cent in 2020.
Production has increased over the years because of improved technologies like steam assisted gravity drainage in the oil sands and horizontal wells in conventional fields. In 2020, despite the impact of COVID 19, Canada exported almost 3.7 MMb/d, which was around 82 per cent of the 4.5 MMb/d of crude oil it produced.
Since 2010, exports from Canada have increased to the US Midwest (PADD 2) and Gulf Coast (PADD 3) regions.(2) PADD 2 is currently the largest market for Canada’s crude oil, taking 58 per cent of exports in 2020. Meanwhile, increased refinery capacity for heavy crude oil and lower production from other global heavy oil producers has increased the demand for Canadian heavy oil in PADD 3.
Exports from Canada to PADD 3 have grown from 13 per cent of total crude oil exports in 2015 to 20 per cent in 2020. PADD 3 can process approximately 9.9 MMb/d(3) of oil, mainly heavy oil types, and is the largest refining market in the US.
Around 17 per cent of the crude oil produced in Canada in 2020 was refined domestically. Additionally, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador imported additional quantities of crude oil to meet their demand for refined petroleum products. In 2020, those provinces imported just over 0.55 million barrels per day of crude oil.