Market Snapshot: Refined petroleum product imports decreased by 10% in 2023

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Release date: 2024-06-19

Canada’s refined petroleum products (RPPs)Definition* imports decreased by 10% in 2023 to 429 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d). Generally, RPP imports have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.Footnote 1 Nevertheless, since 2010, Canada’s imports of refined products like gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, and condensateFootnote 2Definition* have roughly tripled, largely due to the increase in condensate imports into Alberta.

Figure 1: Annual Canadian refined petroleum product imports

Source and Description

Source: Canadian International Merchandise Trade database (CIMT) – HS 2710

Description: This stacked bar chart displays the amount of refined petroleum products (RPPs) that Canada imported from various countries from 2010 to 2023. In 2010, RPP imports were 152 Mb/d, then increased steadily, reaching 570 Mb/d in 2018. Imports decreased for the next two years, rose again in 2021 and 2022, and decreased slightly in 2023 to 429 Mb/d. Since 2013, the vast majority of Canada’s imported RPPs originated from the U.S., with 333 Mb/d or 78% coming from the U.S. in 2023.

Where do Canada’s imported RPPs come from?

The vast majority of Canada’s imported RPPs come from the United States (U.S.) In 2023, 333 Mb/d or 78% of imported RPPs came from the U.S., a 13% decrease from volumes imported in 2022. The Netherlands remained the second-largest supplier of imported RPPs to Canada for the past decade, providing 30 Mb/d, or 7% of the total imports in 2023. The remainder comes from several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, Kuwait, and Germany. In 2023, no RPPs were imported from the Russian Federation, following the sanctions placed by the Government of Canada on RPP imports from Russia.Footnote 3 Over the past decade, RPPs imported from Russia have made up between 0% to 2% of total imported RPPs.

Figure 2: Annual Canadian refined petroleum product imports by country of origin and destination

Source and Description

Source: Canadian International Merchandise Trade database (CIMT) – HS 2710

Description: This Sankey diagram displays the proportion of refined petroleum products (RPPs) imported from various countries, by year and by destination (in Canada and by province/territory). In 2023, 77.6% of Canada’s RPP imports originated from the U.S., 7.1% from the Netherlands, 3.4% from other countries, 3.0% from the United Kingdom, 2.7% from Belgium, 1.6% from Kuwait, 1.0% from Germany, 0.8% from Japan, 0.8% from Sweden, 0.7% from Italy, 0.6% from France, 0.6% from China, 0% from Saudia Arabia, and 0% from the Russian Federation.

Which provinces import the most RPPs?

For the past four years, Alberta has received about half of Canada’s imported RPP volumes, which is the most of all provinces. Alberta’s imports have increased significantly since 2010 when only 18 Mb/d was imported, compared to 197 Mb/d in 2023. The majority of this is condensate, which is carried into the province by two CER-regulated pipelines, Southern Lights and Cochin.Footnote 4 The condensate is blended with bitumenDefinition* extracted from oil sands projects, allowing it to flow through pipelines.

Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia (B.C.) are the next largest importers of RPPs. The majority of Canadians live in these provinces and therefore have some of the highest demand for RPPs. Most of the RPPs imported into these provinces are transportation fuels like gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel. In 2023, Quebec imported 99 Mb/d or 23% of Canada’s total. Quebec’s imports were on an upward trend between 2010 and 2018, then dropped by more than half in 2020. Imports have increased since then, but not to the levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. B.C.’s imports accounted for 9% of Canada’s total in 2023 at 37 Mb/d, a 30% increase from 2022. Ontario imported 33 Mb/d or 8% of Canada’s total in 2023. Ontario’s imports decreased by 32% compared to 2022.

While Canada’s refineries produce more RPPs like gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel than Canadians consume, RPPs are still imported into the country because some parts of Canada do not produce enough RPPs to supply local needs. These areas are often not well-connected by transportation infrastructure to parts of Canada that have excess RPPs. Provinces that are not as well connected to pipelines but have tidewater access, like Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, tend to import a larger portion of RPPs from other countries besides the U.S., including European countries. RPP distributors, or resellers, in each province decide where to source RPPs based on several factors, including the specifications of the product, product pricing, availability of local supply, cost of transportation, and other logistical considerations.

Figure 3: Annual refined petroleum products imports by province

Source and Description

Source: Canadian International Merchandise Trade database (CIMT) – HS 2710

Description: This stacked bar chart shows the amount of refined petroleum products (RPPs) (in barrels per day) that Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, B.C., and Newfoundland and Labrador imported from various countries from 2018 to 2023. Of all provinces, Alberta imports the most RPPs, primarily condensate from the U.S., for blending with bitumen. Although Quebec imports have generally increased since 2020, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Ontario imports were relatively steady from 2019 to 2022 and decreased to 33 Mb/d in 2023. B.C. imports were stable between 2020 and 2022, with an increase in 2023 to 37 Mb/d. Newfoundland and Labrador imports levels increased every year since 2018 but decreased to 19 Mb/d in 2023.

What do imported RPPs cost?

The total cost of imported RPPs was $21.9 billion in 2023, 16% less than the $26.1 billion in 2022. This decrease is partly due to the lower global RPP price per barrel in 2023, as well as the lower volume of imports. The price of RPPs tends to relate closely to crude oil prices, as RPPs are made from crude oil.

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