Comment: Guess where the $ 488 billion in foreign oil comes from? … and which province matters the most? – Energy News for the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry

Quebec leads in oil imports from other countries despite Canada’s vast oil reserves

In one of the great ironies of modern Canadian life, a country with abundant oil reserves has imported $ 488 billion in foreign oil since 1988. This is so despite the presence of one of the largest oil reserves in the world, from Newfoundland to British Columbia (its coastal reserves) to onshore deposits in the prairies. If you divide that large number of $ 488 billion, some useful patterns emerge. Most Canadians probably wouldn’t guess that the province with the most foreign oil imports is also the one with the experts and politicians most often reflexively opposed to oil extraction and pipelines: Quebec. Quebec has imported more than $ 228 billion in foreign oil since 1988, far more than any other province. For the record, it is not that most Quebecers necessarily prefer foreign oil imports to Canadian oil. TO Ipsos 2020 survey The Montreal Economic Institute showed that 50 percent of Quebecers wanted the province to develop its own oil industry. Also, when asked where they would prefer their oil to be imported from, 71 percent of Quebecers said western Canada.

Regardless, in terms of the current reality between the provinces, New Brunswick follows with nearly $ 136 billion in foreign oil imports between 1988 and 2020. That can in part be explained by the Saudi Arabian crude shipped to the port of Saint John and Irving. Oil refinery.

As for the origin of foreign oil entering Canada, it depends on the decade under review. In all the years that we were able to track oil imports (1988 to 2020), historically, the largest oil suppliers to Canada have been the United States (nearly $ 95 billion), Norway ($ 79 billion), and the United Kingdom (almost $ 63 billion). ). Next in line and rounding out the top five was Algeria (over $ 58 billion) and then Saudi Arabia (over $ 44 billion).

However, shorten the analysis to just the years 2010 to 2020, and the United States remains Canada’s top oil supplier at more than $ 84 billion. In fact, the majority of U.S. oil imports have entered Canada in that 11-year period with only about $ 10 billion prior to 2010. That’s due to a mid-decade change in oil policy. The US, which for decades banned most oil exports.

Along with an increase in US oil imports to Canada, the next at number two is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis sent more than $ 26 billion in oil to Canada between 2010 and 2020. Algeria was next with more than $ 20 billion, followed by Norway with more than $ 17 billion and Nigeria with more than $ 12 billion.

Those are the big numbers. Now let’s analyze them a little more. On average nationwide, each Canadian household actually imported $ 1,021 worth of foreign oil annually as of 2016. (We based this on 2016 census data, the most recent census data available for household figures, and using oil import data for the same year). However, separate Quebec from the data, and the average Quebec household did indeed import $ 1,576 in foreign oil that same year.

To put oil imports in a broader perspective, between 2010 and 2020, Canadians imported more than $ 26 billion in foreign oil from Saudi Arabia. In those same years, we bought almost $ 1.7 billion in coffee from Brazil, $ 2.5 billion in coffee from Colombia, $ 7.8 billion in fruits and nuts from Mexico, and $ 9.2 billion in vegetables from Mexico. That’s $ 21.2 billion in total on coffee, fruits, nuts, and vegetables from those countries, or roughly $ 5 billion less than what we spend on oil from Saudi Arabia.

There’s a number of factors which explain the level of foreign crude oil imports from Canada. The proximity of eastern and central Canada to US oil producers is a factor; the type of oil in the processes of a refinery and the current limitations of the pipelines are different. Given such complexities and the need for open markets and supply flexibility, it would be a mistake to advocate for protectionist measures.

So, for the record, we are not arguing against free oil trade, but rather, a reminder that artificial barriers to Canada’s crude oil trade (oil and gas activism and regulations and laws designed to thwart resource development) can have unintended consequences. Consequences. That may include higher imports of foreign oil.

Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan are at the Canadian Energy Center, an Alberta government corporation funded in part by industry taxes on carbon emissions. They are authors of Foreign oil imports to Canada: $ 488 billion between 1988 and 2020.

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