Market Snapshot: Refined Petroleum Products Imports Rose by 5% in 2022

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Release date: 2023-08-30

Canada’s refined petroleum products (RPPs)Definition* imports rose by 5% in 2022 to 478,000 barrels per day (b/d), as demand for RPPs increased but did not reach pre-pandemic levels.Footnote 1 This increased demand was due to growing oil sands production requiring more condensateDefinition* and general economic recovery requiring more transportation fuels than in 2021.

Since 2010, Canada’s imports of refined products such as gasoline, diesel, heating oil, condensate, and jet fuel have roughly tripled. The total cost of all imported RPPs was $26.1 billion in 2022, 55% more than the $16.8 billion in 2021. This increase is because of the higher volumes of RPPs imported at higher global RPP prices in 2022 compared to 2021. The price of RPPs tends to relate closely to crude oil prices, as RPPs are made from crude oil.

Figure 1: Annual Canadian refined petroleum product imports

Source and Description

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

Description: The top chart displays the amount of refined petroleum products (in barrels per day) Canada imported from various countries from 2010 to 2022. The bottom chart displays the proportion (as a % of total imports) of refined products imported from various countries.

Alberta receives about half of Canada’s imported RPP volumes, at 234,000 b/d in 2022. This is primarily condensate, which is imported from the U.S. along two CER-regulated pipelines, Southern Lights and Cochin. The condensate is used for blending with bitumenDefinition* extracted from the oil sands projects to allow it to flow through pipelines.

Quebec is the next-largest importer of RPPs, making up 110,000 b/d or 23% of total Canadian RPP imports, followed by Ontario at 49,000 b/d or 10%. The majority of Canadians live in these two provinces and therefore have some of the highest demand for RPPs. Most of the RPPs imported into these provinces are transportation fuels such as gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel.

While Canada’s refineries produce more RPPs 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 to spare. Provinces that are not as well-connected to pipelines but have tidewater access, such as Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, tend to import a larger portion of RPPs from other countries besides the U.S., including European countries. Ultimately, each RPP distributor or reseller makes the decision of where to source its 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 2: Annual refined petroleum product imports by province

Source and Description

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

Description: The chart shows the amount of refined products (in barrels per day) that Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia import.

Where do Canada’s imported RPPs come from?

The vast majority of Canada’s imported RPPs come from the U.S. In 2022, 381,000 b/d or 80% of imported RPPs came from the U.S., a 10% increase over volumes imported in 2021. The Netherlands remained the second-largest supplier of imported RPPs to Canada for the past decade, providing 42,000 b/d or 9% of the total imports in 2022. The remainder comes from several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, and India. In 2022, the Russian Federation supplied 1,000 b/d or 0.2% of Canada’s total RPP imports. RPP imports from Russia occurred during the first quarter of 2022, before Canada placed sanctions on RPP imports from Russia.Footnote 2 Over the past decade, RPPs imported from Russia have made up between 0% to 2% of total imported RPPs.

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