Canada’s oil and natural gas producers strive to gain access to new markets for their expanding production. Product is safely transported three ways: pipeline, marine transport and rail.
Canada’s growing oil supply is expected to exceed existing transport capacity, requiring pipeline expansions and new pipelines to access new and existing markets.
- Atlantic Canada imported 333 thousand barrels per day (b/d) in 2017. (Source: Statistics Canada, 2017)
- The West Coast is a critical outlet for Canadian oil to reach customers in Asian markets.
- Even with increased domestic supply, the U.S. will need oil imports to meet its energy demands. As long as the U.S. is importing oil, Canada is the best supplier.
Canadian Oil Imports
(Source: Statistics Canada)
Traditional markets for western Canadian natural gas are changing: exports to the U.S., Canada's only export market for natural gas, have dropped 16 per cent over the past five years and are projected to drop further because of the U.S.'s own growing supply.
With exports to the U.S. declining, Canada's industry is exploring new markets for Canadian natural gas. Several liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals have been proposed on Canada's West Coast. Asian energy demand continues to grow, with China's demand for natural gas growing five per cent annually.
Today, Canada has limited pipeline infrastructure to move oil and natural gas across the country and into the United States.
As a result of strong growth in the U.S. and Canadian oil and natural gas production, pipeline capacity is expected to become constrained in the future, requiring new pipelines and pipeline expansions to provide access to new markets. But pipelines are a critical part of Canada’s oil and natural gas infrastructure. Often called an energy superhighway, pipelines are a reliable and safe way to transport liquids, such as oil and water, and natural gas from areas of development all the way to refineries, petrochemical plants and even to our homes and businesses for use.
Each year, more than 580 million barrels of oil are safely transported along Canada's East and West Coasts via tanker. Oil tankers currently represent about two per cent of total ship traffic visiting Port Metro Vancouver. (Source: Clear Seas, 2017)
Asia's fast-growing economies require new sources of energy and Asian markets are an eight day to an 11-day sail from proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on Canada's West Coast - two days closer than most of our international competitors.
Without new pipelines, every new barrel of oil will move by rail. In 2017, about 140,000 b/d of oil - or about three per cent of Western Canada's supply - were moved by rail.
Canadian oil producers support rail safety measures and will continue to work with service providers and Transport Canada to ensure the safe delivery of product.
(Source: Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Railway Limited)Learn more about emergency preparedness for rail incidents involving flammable liquids in Canada.