Market Snapshot: Energy’s Share of Canadian Imports Growing Again

Release date: 2017-10-18

Energy imports and exports are important and growing components of Canada’s international trade. Although Canada exports far more energy than it imports, it still imports a considerable amount. As shown in the figure below, quarterly energy imports have increased seven-fold over the last 30 years from $4.8 billion to $33.6 billion, while overall imports increased five-fold over the same period.

Source and Description

Source: CANSIM Table 380-0070, seasonally-adjusted annual rates

Description: This area graph shows the value of Canadian imports each quarter from 1987 to 2017. The total value of Canadian imports has increased five-fold, from $137 billion to $717 billion. The share and value of energy imports increased over the period 1987 - 2014. The share of energy imports increased from 3% in 1987, peaked around 10% in late 2008, and decreased to 5% in 2017. The import share of vehicles and industrial equipment and parts, the largest source of imports, has decreased and the share of consumer goods had increased.

The value of Canadian energy imports also changed in composition from 1987 to 2017.

  • Natural gas’s share of imports, by dollar value, increased from 3% of the total imports in 1987 to 14% in 2017. This increase corresponds with increased gas production in the U.S. which resulted in more imports into Ontario and Quebec.
  • Refined petroleum products’ share of imports, by dollar value, increased from 9% in 1987 to 26% in 2017, with the growth primarily in the last 15 years. This corresponds with closures of several refineries: the Petro-Canada Oakville refinery which closed in 2005, the Shell Montreal East refinery which closed in 2010, and the Imperial Oil Dartmouth refinery which closed in 2013, which resulted in the need to import more refined products.
  • The share of the value of imports coming from electricity and other energy products has declined as natural gas and RPP import values have increased.
Source and Description

Source: CANSIM Table 380-0070, seasonally-adjusted annual rates

Description: The stacked area chart illustrates the shares of different energy products imported by Canada from 1987 to 2017 by value. In 1987 crude oil accounted for about 68% of the value of energy imports, natural gas and natural gas liquids accounted for about 3%, electricity 10%, refined petroleum products (RPPs) 9%, and other energy products, which includes coal and wood fuel, accounted for 11%. By 2017, crude oil and bitumen accounted for 57% of total energy imports, natural gas and natural gas liquids accounted for 14%, electricity 1%, RPPs 26%, and other energy products 3%.

The share of crude oil imports has decreased over time, however crude oil remains the largest contributor to energy imports into Canada. This is because light crude oil is imported into eastern Canada to be used in refineries not configured to run Canadian heavy crude or that do not have pipeline access to western Canadian crude oil.

 

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