Eastern Canadian refineries process primarily conventional light crude oil

Canada has a strong refining industry but processes only a fraction of its own crude oil production, according to the National Energy Board’s (NEB) inaugural Canadian Refinery Overview – Energy Market Assessment report.

The refinery overview states that only 30 per cent of Canadian crude oil is processed by Canadian refineries. This is mainly due to the size of Canada’s refining industry compared to the resource size, the location of its refineries and the lack of cross-country pipeline connectivity.

Most of the refineries in Canada, built when there were abundant supplies of light crude oil, were not configured to process growing volumes of heavy crude oil from the oil sands. As a result, significant volumes of crude oil, mostly light, is imported to Central and Eastern Canadian refineries.

Canada is the world’s seventh largest crude oil producer, has the world’s third largest crude oil reserves, and its refining industry ranks 11th in the world in capacity. Canada has 14 full refineries and two asphalt refineries with a total refining capacity of 1.9 million b/d.

Canada’s production of refined petroleum products, which includes gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil, is primarily for domestic consumption, with some exports mainly from Atlantic Canadian refineries.

Although Canadian refineries are processing more Canadian crude than ever before, Central and Eastern Canadian refineries will still import crude oil to meet their refining needs. Western Canadian refineries process more oil sands crude than refineries in Eastern Canada. Eastern Canadian refineries process primarily conventional light crude oil.

Quebec and Atlantic Canada have the most refining capacity at 782,000 b/d, followed by Western Canada at 683,000 b/d and Ontario at 390,000 b/d.