Market Snapshot: Canada’s share of total crude oil exported to the U.S. is growing

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Release date: 2020-10-14

In recent years, despite increased crude oil production in the United States (U.S.), Canada’s crude oil exports to the U.S. have also grown significantly.

Between 2010 and 2019, U.S. crude oil production increased 123% to 12.2 million barrels per day (MMb/d).Footnote 1 The boom in U.S. unconventional extraction methods led to a significant increase in domestic crude oil production from shale plays.

Over the same time period, Canada’s U.S. crude oil exports increased from 1.9 MMb/d (21% of total U.S. crude oil imports) to 3.7 MMb/d (54% of total U.S. crude oil imports). This is partly because most of Canada’s crude oil exports are heavy oil, and refiners in the U.S. have substantial heavy crude oil refining capacity. Venezuela and Mexico, two other producers that supply the U.S., experienced declining heavy oil production, leading to increased U.S. demand for Canadian heavy oil.

Figure 1. United States Crude Oil Imports by Country of Origin

Source and Description

Source: Energy Information Agency, CER – Commodity Statistics, and CER calculations.

Description: This chart shows U.S. crude oil imports by country of origin. It shows a growing share coming from Canada, whose crude oil exports to the U.S. went from 1.9 MMb/d in 2010 to 3.7 MMb/d in 2019. Over the same time period, U.S. total crude oil imports declined by 26%, from 9.2 MMb/d to 6.8 MMb/d.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant reductions in petroleum products consumption in the U.S. As a result, Canada’s crude oil exports to the U.S. dropped 11% in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019. In comparison, crude oil exports to the U.S. from the rest of the world dropped 20% during the same time period. The decline in U.S. crude oil imports was partly offset by a reduction in crude oil production in the U.S. during that time period.Footnote 2

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