The transportation of oil and natural gas in Canada includes: pipelines, rail, marine and roads. The safe transportation of resources is a top priority and Canada is committed to the prevention of environmental incidents, while ensuring the daily energy consumption of Canadians is being met.
Pipelines are a critical part of Canada’s oil and natural gas transportation infrastructure. Pipeline transport is the safest and most efficient way to move large volumes of oil and natural gas from development areas to refineries, petrochemical plants and even to our homes and businesses for use. For export, natural gas can be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and transported by tankers to overseas markets.
Each year, tankers carry about 80 million tonnes of oil from Canada’s coasts. In 2015, there were about 197,513 departures and arrivals of vessels at West Coast ports. Tankers accounted for about 1487 of them, or 0.75 per cent. (Source: Transport Canada 2022)
Asia’s fast-growing economies require new sources of energy. Asian markets are an 8-to-11-day sail from proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on Canada’s West Coast – at least two days closer than most international competitors.
Ships are regularly inspected against strict international standards. All oil tankers moving through Canadian waters are required to be double-hulled — the bottom and sides have two complete layers of water-tight hull surface, significantly reducing the potential of an oil spill. (Source: Transport Canada, 2009)
Large single-hulled tankers were prohibited in 2010 and can no longer operate in Canadian waters.
Rail is an important piece of the oil transportation network, allowing producers the flexibility to move products to different markets in response to demand. Rail also complements pipeline transport capacity and provides an alternative for markets without pipeline connections.
In recent years, rail transport of oil has grown as an alternative mode of transportation to accommodate oil production growth that has exceeded available pipeline capacity.