Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – British Columbia
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Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production
Source and Description:
This graph shows hydrocarbon production in B.C. from 2008 to 2018. Over this period, crude oil and equivalent production increased from 35.0 Mb/d to 101.2 Mb/d. Natural gas production increased from 2.7 Bcf/d to 5.1 Bcf/d.
Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2018)
Source and Description:
This pie chart shows electricity generation by source in B.C. A total of 74.2 TW.h of electricity was generated in 2018.
Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map
Source and Description:
CER, Natural Resources Canada
This map shows electricity generation facilities in B.C. Facilities are shown by capacity and by primary fuel source.
PDF version [1320 KB]
Figure 4: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all major crude oil pipelines, rail lines, and refineries in B.C.
PDF version [544 KB]
Figure 5: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all major natural gas pipelines in B.C.
PDF version [567 KB]
Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Sector (2017)
Source and Description:
This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in B.C. by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 1 249 PJ in 2017. The largest sector was industrial at 47% of total demand, followed by transportation (at 28%), residential (at 14%), and lastly, commercial (at 12%).
Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2017)
Source and Description:
This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in B.C. in 2017. Refined petroleum products accounted for 450 PJ (38%) of demand, followed by natural gas at 377 PJ (30%), electricity at 229 PJ (19%), biofuels at 189 PJ (12%), and other at 6 PJ (1%).
Note: "Other" includes coal, coke, and coke oven gas.
Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector
Source and Description:
This stacked column graph shows GHG emissions in B.C. by sector every five years from 1990 to 2017 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have increased in B.C. from 52 MT of CO2e in 1990 to 62 MT of CO2e in 2017.
- In 2018, British Columbia (B.C.) produced 101.2 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of crude oil (including condensate and pentanes plus) (Figure 1). B.C.’s crude oil production represented 2% of total Canadian production, ranking 4th after Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
- All B.C. production is light oil, condensate, and pentanes plus and is generally from the northeast portion of the province.
- At year-end 2018, B.C.’s remaining resource of crude oil is estimated to be 508 million barrels.
Refined Petroleum Products (RPPs)
- B.C. has two refineries with a combined capacity of 67 Mb/d: the Prince George (Tidewater) Refinery and the Burnaby (Parkland) Refinery.
- The Prince George Refinery has a capacity of 12 Mb/d and mostly consumes light and synthetic crude oil from western Canada. On 1 November, 2019, Tidewater Midstream completed the purchase of the refinery from Husky Energy.
- The Burnaby Refinery has a capacity of 55 Mb/d and mostly consumes heavier western Canadian crude transported via Trans Mountain. Parkland Fuels acquired the refinery from Chevron in April 2017.
Natural Gas/Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)
- In 2018, natural gas production in B.C. averaged 5.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) (Figure 1), accounting for 32% of total Canadian natural gas production.
- Natural gas is produced in the northeastern part of B.C., predominantly from the Montney Formation. Development of tight gas in the Montney is the primary factor behind B.C.’s gas production doubling between 2006 and 2018.
- The Montney Formation extends from northeast B.C. and into Alberta, and the B.C. part is estimated to contain 400 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable, sales-quality gas in B.C. with 392 Tcf remaining at year-end 2018.
- Other significant gas resources are located in the Horn River Basin and Liard Basin. B.C.’s total potential resource for recoverable, sales-quality natural gas is estimated to be 705 Tcf, with 671 Tcf remaining at year-end 2018.
- In 2018, B.C. produced about 150 Mb/d of NGLs, not including condensate and pentanes plus, which are included with crude oil.
- In 2018, B.C. generated 74.2 terawatt hours (TW.h) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 11% of total Canadian generation. B.C. is the 4th largest producer of electricity in Canada and has a generating capacity of 18 286 megawatts (MW).
- BC Hydro generates most of B.C.’s electricity. Independent power producers operate several smaller hydroelectric plants as well as all the biomass, wind, and solar facilities.
- About 91% of electricity in B.C. is produced from hydroelectric sources. B.C. is home to over 15 955 MW of hydroelectric capacity, most of which is located on the Columbia River in southeastern B.C. and the Peace River in northeastern B.C (Figure 3). Site C, a new 1 100 MW hydroelectric facility, is currently under construction on the Peace River. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
- The Columbia River Basin provides over 40% of B.C.’s electrical power. Canada and the U.S. signed the Columbia River Treaty in 1961 to manage water flows and downstream flooding in the U.S. The agreement gives the province of B.C. entitlement to an equal share of the benefits of the downstream power that can be generated in the U.S. The benefits are received as energy and capacity, which can be sold for market value.
- Biomass, which relies mostly on waste from B.C.’s extensive forestry industry, is used to generate about 5% of B.C.’s electricity.
- Wind accounts for about 4% of B.C.’s electricity generation capacity. With more than 700 MW of installed wind capacity, B.C. ranks 4th in Canada.
- Other sources of power include natural gas, petroleum (used in off-grid communities), and solar.
Energy Transportation and Trade
Crude Oil and Liquids
- There are two major crude oil pipelines in B.C.: Trans Mountain and Pembina’s NEBC/Western Pipeline system (Figure 4).
- The Trans Mountain Pipeline delivers crude oil and refined petroleum products from Edmonton, Alberta to Kamloops, Burnaby, and the U.S. Trans Mountain has a current capacity of approximately 300 Mb/d, which varies depending on the proportion of heavy and light oil and RPPs that is being transported. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) is expected to increase system capacity to 890 Mb/d. TMEP involves twinning the existing pipeline, building new pipeline, and expanding the Westridge Marine Terminal by adding two berths. Construction of the TMEP is currently underway.
- In mid-2018 the Government of Canada, through a newly formed subsidiary of the Canada Development Investment Corporation named Trans Mountain Corporation, purchased the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion. The purchase transaction included the option for the TMEP.
- The NEBC/Western Pipeline system consists of the 50 Mb/d western segment that ships crude oil from Taylor to the Prince George refinery and to an interconnect with Trans Mountain in Kamloops. The NEBC portion of the system transports liquids, including condensate produced in the Montney region, to Taylor. From Taylor, liquids can also reach markets in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan area of Alberta via other pipelines.
- There are two crude oil rail offloading facilities in B.C., both located in Burnaby. The Burnaby Refinery has a facility capable of offloading about 8 Mb/d of crude oil, and had 5-10% of its crude delivered by rail in Q4 2018.
- In general, natural gas produced in B.C. is either: delivered to demand centres in B.C. on pipelines operated by Enbridge’s BC Pipeline (also referred to as Westcoast), FortisBC, or Pacific Northern Gas (PNG); exported to Alberta and beyond on TC Energy’s (formerly TransCanada) Nova Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) System or Alliance Pipeline; or exported to the U.S. (Figure 5).
- The NGTL System is expanding to accommodate new supply from the Montney formation in northeast B.C. and northwest Alberta. The North Montney Mainline project was approved by the NEB (now CER) in May 2018, and is planned to be fully placed into service throughout 2020. The North Montney expansion transports natural gas from the North Montney area to the existing NGTL system and is connected with Fortis’ Aitken Creek Gas Storage facility, the largest gas storage facility in B.C.
- In October 2019, TC Energy announced its West Path Delivery Program, an expansion of the NGTL System and Foothills pipeline systems to increase export capacity to its Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) System in the U.S. Pacific Northwest by late 2022 or 2023.
- TC Energy is currently building the Coastal GasLink (CGL) Pipeline to supply gas to LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat. On 26 July 2019, the NEB issued a decision confirming B.C. jurisdiction on the pipeline project. The CGL Pipeline will have an initial capacity of 2.1 Bcf/d, and it could be further expanded to 5.0 Bcf/d without laying new pipe.
- Natural gas is exported from B.C. to the U.S. Pacific Northwest at Huntingdon, where Enbridge’s BC Pipeline (Westcoast) connects with Williams’ Northwest Pipeline or at Kingsgate where the Foothills pipeline connects with GTN. Gas produced in B.C. may also be exported to the U.S. Midwest through Alberta and beyond via Alliance Pipeline or the NGTL System.
- FortisBC distributes gas to approximately 1.2 million customers in 135 communities on over
2 800 km of pipelines. PNG serves approximately 42 000 customers in the corridor between Summit Lake and Prince Rupert, and in the Fort St. John and Dawson Creek area. FortisBC and PNG are regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).
- FortisBC receives renewable natural gas (RNG) from five facilities. Together, these facilities can provide up to 316 000 gigajoules of RNG per year, enough to heat 3 470 homes for a year.
- AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal (RIPET), located near Price Rupert, started operations in May 2019. RIPET is the first Canadian propane marine export terminal, and will export approximately 40 Mb/d of propane to Asian and other international markets. RIPET receives its supply from western Canada via CN’s railway network. RIPET has storage capacity of up to 600 Mb.
- Pembina’s Prince Rupert Terminal will have an initial export capacity of 25 Mb/d of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and is expected to be in service in the second half of 2020. An expansion has been announced that would increase capacity to 40 Mb/d, subject to necessary regulatory and environmental approvals. LPG supply for the terminal will primarily be sourced from Pembina's fractionation complex in Redwater, Alberta.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
- FortisBC operates two smaller scale LNG facilities: Tilbury on Tilbury Island near Vancouver and MT. Hayes near Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.
- Tilbury has been in operation since 1971 and serves local markets during peak winter demand. Tilbury also provides LNG for fleet vehicles and in recent years started producing LNG for electricity generation in Whitehorse, Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Tilbury has liquefaction capacity of approximately 36 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) and storage capacity of 1 625 million cubic feet (MMcf) after an expansion was completed in 2019. The Tilbury facility has been exporting small volumes of LNG to China on ships since late 2017.
- The MT. Hayes LNG facility was built in 2011 and provides gas to customers on Vancouver Island during high demand period or gas system outages. The MT. Hayes facility has a liquefaction capacity of 7.5 MMcf/d and a storage capacity of 1 500 MMcf.
- Several more small-scale LNG plants are proposed near Fort Nelson, B.C., including one by Ferus.
- Many large-scale LNG export facilities have been proposed for the B.C. coast. Since 2010, the CER (formerly NEB) has issued 28 natural gas export licenses for B.C. projects. To date, LNG Canada is the only LNG export project to begin construction activities.
- LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat is currently under construction, after receiving its final investment decision in October 2018. The project is joint venture between Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi Corporation, and KOGAS. Initial production capacity will be 14 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year from the first two processing units (trains) with the potential to expand to four trains in the future.
- Pacific Oil & Gas Limited’s Woodfibre LNG project has received the necessary BCOGC facilities permit to build and operate the facility. In September 2018, a 13-year offtake agreement was signed between Woodfibre and China’s CNOOC Gas and Power Trading & Marketing Ltd. The agreement is set to start in 2023.
- All LNG export facilities will be regulated primarily by the province of British Columbia, including BCOGC.
- In 2018, B.C.’s net interprovincial and international electricity outflows were 0.2 TW.h. B.C. trades primarily with the U.S., and to a lesser extent, Alberta.
- On an annual basis, B.C. is typically a net exporter of electricity but because of its ability to buy electricity from the U.S. when prices are lower and sell to the U.S. when prices are higher, B.C. often has a positive trade revenue balance even in years when it imports more electricity than it exports.
- B.C. has more than 18 000 km of electricity transmission lines and more than 55 000 km of distribution lines. Four interconnections link B.C.’s electricity system with systems in Alberta and the U.S.
- In April 2019, the federal government, B.C. government and BC Hydro announced federal government funding for the Peace Region Electricity Supply Project. The BC Hydro project involves two parallel 230 kilovolt power lines between the future Site C substation near Fort St. John and the existing Groundbirch substation, located 30 km east of Chetwynd, B.C. and will improve reliability in the region.
Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Total Energy Consumption
- End-use demand in B.C. was 1 249 petajoules (PJ) in 2017. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 47% of total demand, followed by transportation at 28%, residential at 14%, and commercial at 12% (Figure 6). B.C.’s total energy demand was the fourth largest in Canada, but the sixth largest on a per capita basis.
- Refined petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel, were the largest fuel-type consumed in B.C., accounting for 450 PJ, or 36%. Natural gas, electricity and biofuels accounted for 377 PJ (30%), 229 PJ (18%) and 189 PJ (15%), respectively (Figure 7).
- B.C. is the largest biofuels consumer in Canada – primarily because of its large forestry sector that generates electricity from waste wood.
Refined Petroleum Products
- Most of the gasoline consumed in B.C. comes from Alberta, delivered primarily via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Gasoline is also produced in B.C.’s two refineries. Less than 10% the gasoline consumed in B.C. is imported via ship or barge from the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
- In response to high prices for transportation fuel during the summer of 2019, BCUC held a public inquiry into wholesale and retail gasoline and diesel prices in British Columbia. Subsequently, the government introduced and passed the B.C. Fuel Transparency Act or Bill 42 on 27 November 2019, requiring companies to share information on RPPs including imports, exports, fuel volumes at refineries and terminals as well as wholesale and retail prices.
- B.C.’s RPP demand data is not publically available for 2018.
- B.C. consumed an average of 0.69 Bcf/d of natural gas in 2018, which represented 6% of total Canadian demand.
- The largest consuming sector for natural gas was the industrial sector, which consumed 0.38 Bcf/d in 2018. The residential and commercial sectors consumed 0.19 Bcf/d and 0.12 Bcf/d, respectively.
- In 2017, annual electricity consumption per capita in B.C. was 12.9 megawatt hours (MW.h). B.C. ranked 8th in Canada for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 11% less than the national average.
- B.C.’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2017 was industrial at 28.4 TW.h. The residential and commercial sectors consumed 20.1 TW.h and 14.9 TW.h, respectively. B.C.’s electricity demand has increased by about 4% since 2005.
- B.C. has over 2 000 public charging stations for electric vehicles.
- B.C.’s GHG emissions in 2017 were 62.1 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)Footnote 1. Emissions have increased 20% since 1990.
- B.C.’s emissions per capita are one of the lowest in Canada, at 12.6 tonnes of CO2e – 36% below the national average of 19.6 tonnes per capita.
- The largest emitting sectors in B.C. are transportation at 37% of emissions, oil and gas at 22%, and heavy industries (including smelting, cement, and chemicals) at 14% (Figure 8).
- B.C.’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2017 were 13.4 MT CO2e. Of this total, 12.7 MT were attributable to production, processing, and transmission and 0.8 MT were attributable to petroleum refining and natural gas distribution.
- About 98% of the electricity produced in B.C. comes from renewable sources. In 2017, B.C.’s power sector generated 0.2 MT CO2e emissions, which represents 0.2% of Canada’s total GHG emissions from power generation.
- B.C. Oil & Gas Commission
- Government of B.C. – Natural Gas and Oil
- British Columbia Utilities Commission
- Ministry of Energy and Mines
- British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association
- CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Report
- CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Supplemental Fact Sheet: Oil Sands Production
- CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Supplemental Fact Sheet: Conventional, Tight, and Shale Oil Production
- CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Supplemental Fact Sheet: Natural Gas Production
- CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2019 Supplemental Fact Sheet: Natural Gas Liquids
- CER – Market Snapshot: Of nearly 50 companies that export electricity, three account for more than half of all exports in 2019
- CER – Market Snapshot: Even though Canada exports a lot of electricity, it imports a lot too
- CER – Market Snapshot: Canadian natural gas production, and British Columbia’s share of it, is expected to continue growing
- CER – Market Snapshot: New propane export terminal in British Columbia allows Canadian propane direct access to Asian markets
- CER – Market Snapshot: Ethane potential from natural gas production is significant and is expected to continue to grow in Canada
- CER – Market Snapshot: How much crude oil does Canada export by marine vessel and where does it go?
- CER – Market Snapshot: Gasoline pricing and the role of Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia's gasoline supply
- CER – Market Snapshot: British Columbia’s natural gas production 12% lower than expected for the fourth quarter of 2018
- CER – Market Snapshot: Production of condensate and pentanes plus reached an all-time high in western Canada in 2018
- CER – Market Snapshot: Impacts of Enbridge’s BC Pipeline rupture on natural gas flows
- CER – Market Snapshot: Evolving technology is a key driver of performance in modern gas wells: a look at the Montney Formation, one of North America’s biggest gas resources
- CER – Market Snapshot: Increasing western Canadian non-oil sands oil production varies by province
- CER – Market Snapshot: Canadian wood pellet exports grew 46% between 2015 and 2016
- CER – Market Snapshot: LNG projects have an energy efficiency advantage compared to other LNG producers in warmer locations
- CER – Market Snapshot: Canadian electricity exports to the U.S. focused on renewable power exports to specific markets
- CER – Market Snapshot: Northern Canada rich in natural gas resources, but current production continues to decline
- CER – Market Snapshot: Electricity exports from B.C. to California are increasing
- CER – Market Snapshot: Montney gas wells increasingly productive due to technological improvements
- CER – Market Snapshot: Household energy expenditures are highest in the Atlantic region, lowest in British Columbia
- CER – Market Snapshot: British Columbia uses its hydro system to maximize gains from electricity trade
Provincial & Territorial Energy Profiles aligns with CER’s latest Canada’s Energy Future 2019 datasets. Energy Future uses a variety of data sources, generally starting with Statistics Canada data as the foundation, and making adjustments depending on individual province/territory circumstances. Adjustments are necessary to ensure consistency and comparability across provinces/territories.
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