Market Snapshot: What products are created from the oil processed in Canadian refineries?

Release date: 2017-08-09

Canada’s 16 refineries process oil that is produced in Canada and imported from abroad. Over the last five years, these refineries produced an average of 2.3 million barrels of refined petroleum products each day. Approximately 80% of these products were used to either move people and goods, or keep people warm.

The largest product category within this 80% figure was motor gasoline, which accounted for more than a third of the products created. Diesel and middle distillates (such as light fuel oil) are the second largest category and are used for passenger and freight transportation, electricity generation, and home heating. Rounding out this 80% figure are the aviation fuel category (turbo jet fuel and aviation gasoline used by passenger, commercial, and military aircraft), and the heavy fuel oils category (fuel used primarily for marine transport).

Breakdown of an average barrel of Canadian refined petroleum products

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM 134-0004, NEB calculations

Description: This stacked bar chart illustrates the breakdown of an average barrel of refined petroleum products created in Canadian refineries, presented with the heaviest products on the bottom and the lightest products on top. The values have been calculated based on average Canadian refinery production between 2011 and 2016. The largest component is motor gasoline at 36%, followed by diesel and middle distillates at 33%. Petrochemical feedstocks and LPGs account for 7%, heavy fuel oil accounts for 6%, other heavy products accounts for 6%, aviation fuel accounts for 5%, other light products accounts for 4%, and asphalt accounts for 4%.

Refineries also produce various other products, ranging from “light” to “heavy”.Footnote 1 On the light side, propane, butanes, other liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs), and still gasFootnote 2 can be inputs in the petrochemicals industry and converted into consumer items such as plastics, synthetic fibres, resins, and rubbers. Other light products include naphthas, stove oil, and kerosene. On the “heavy” side, asphalt is primarily for road and surface paving, but is also used for roofing and the waterproofing of buildings. Other heavy products include petroleum coke, lubricating oils and greases, and paraffin wax.

The range of products produced in each refinery depends on the type of oil being refined, as heavier oil results in heavier products and lighter oil results in lighter products. Around a third of the crude refined in western Canada is considered heavy, while approximately 10% of the crude refined in eastern Canada is considered heavy.

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