Market Snapshot: Canadian crude oil is mainly exported to two regions in the United States

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Release date: 2019-12-11

In 2019Footnote 1, Canada exported 3.8 million barrels per day of crude oil. Three quarters of this is heavy crude oilFootnote 2 because most Canadian refineries cannot refine heavy crudes in large amounts. Nearly all exported crude oil went to the United States (U.S.) where there are more refineries that process heavier crudes. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, around half of the U.S.’s imported crude oil comes from Canada.

Figure 1: Canadian crude oil export volumes and destinations by PADD (2010-2019)

Source and Description

Source: CER

Description: The bars show the daily average volume of crude oil exported from Canada to each PADD from 2010 to the end of September 2019. The crude oil export volumes shown include: 2.0 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of total exports (to all PADDs) in 2010, 3.0 MMb/d of total exports in 2015, and 3.8 MMb/d of total exports from January to September 2019.

  • PADD I received 0.2 MMb/d of crude oil exports in 2010, 0.2 MMB/d in 2015, and 0.2 MMb/d in 2019 (to the end of September).
  • PADD II received 1.2 MMb/d of exports in 2010, 1.9 MMb/d in 2015, and 2.1 MMb/d in 2019.
  • PADD III received 0.1 MMb/d of exports in 2010, 0.4 MMb/d in 2015, and 0.8 MMb/d in 2019.
  • PADD IV received 0.2 MMb/d of exports in 2010, 0.3 MMb/d in 2015, and 0.3 MMb/d in 2019.
  • PADD V received 0.2 MMb/d of exports in 2010, 0.2 MMb/d in 2015, and 0.2 MMb/d in 2019.
  • A small portion of exports went to ‘Other’ destinations in each year, including unspecified U.S. PADD regions and non-U.S. countries.

Figure 2 shows refineries in the U.S. lower-48 by operating capacity and by Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD). Over three quarters of Canada’s crude oil exports go to PADDs II and III (the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast) (Figure 1).Footnote 3 PADD II has 25 refineries, as well as access to multiple pipelines transporting crude oil from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). Canadian exports to PADD III–which has 53 refineries–have continued to grow despite lack of available pipeline capacity from the WCSB.

PADD V mainly receives Canadian crude oil that is transported from British Columbia to Washington refineries. PADD I is further away from western Canada. It has limited access to Canadian crude oil, except by tankers from offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. PADD IV has less refining capacity and is partially supplied by some small pipelines exporting crude oil from western Canada.

Figure 2: U.S. PADD regions and operating refinery capacity (2019)

Source and Description

Source: EIA

Description: The U.S. map depicts the PADD regions and refineries as follows (as of January 2019, left to right):

  • PADD V (U.S. West Coast) – 27 refineries with 2.9 MMb/d of operating capacity.
  • PADD IV (U.S. Rockies) – 16 refineries with 0.7 MMb/d of operating capacity.
  • PADD II (U.S. Midwest) – 25 refineries with 4.1 MMb/d of operating capacity.
  • PADD I (U.S. East Coast) – 8 refineries with 1.2 MMb/d operating capacity.
  • PADD III (U.S. Gulf Coast) (53 refineries with 9.8 MMb/d operating capacity.
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