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Last Updated: October 8, 2019
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Overview

  • Canada is one of the world’s top energy producers and is a principal source of U.S. energy imports.

  • Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and is a significant producer of natural gas, hydroelectricity, and crude oil and other liquids from oil sands. Energy exports to the United States account for most of Canada’s total energy exports.
  • Canada has abundant and varied natural resources, ranking fourth in 2018 among the top energy producers of petroleum and total liquids in the world, behind only the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Relatively energy intensive compared with other industrialized countries, Canada’s economy is fueled largely by petroleum and other liquids, natural gas, and hydroelectricity (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Total primary energy consumption in Canada by fuel type, 2018

# figure data


Petroleum and other liquids

Canada’s oil sands have significantly contributed to the recent and expected future growth in the world’s liquid fuel supply, and they comprise most of the country’s proved oil reserves, which rank third globally.

Reserves
  • The Oil & Gas Journal estimates that as of January 2019, Canada had 167 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, ranking third in the world.[1] Only Venezuela and Saudi Arabia hold higher reserves. In addition, Canada is one of only 3 countries among the top 10 proved reserves holders that is not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Production and consumption
  • In 2018, Canada was the world’s fourth-largest petroleum and other liquids producer and was a net exporter of oil. Nearly all of its crude oil exports are destined for the United States because Canada lacks sufficient export capacity to send its liquids elsewhere.
  • Canada is a major producer of crude oil. Bitumen and upgraded synthetic crude oil produced from the oil sands of Alberta have driven recent growth in Canada’s liquid fuels production. Most of Canada’s proved oil reserves and the expected future growth in the country’s liquid fuels production will be derived from these resources.
  • Canada produced 5.3 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum and other liquid fuels in 2018, an increase of more than 300,000 b/d from the previous year. Crude oil (including condensate) accounted for 4.3 million b/d, and the remainder was produced as biofuels, natural gas, and other natural gas liquids (NGL) (Figure 2). Canada’s production is expected to grow modestly in 2019 and 2020 because of export capacity constraints and mandatory production curtailments set by the government of Alberta.

Figure 2. Canada liquid fuels production and consumption

# figure data


Refining
  • According to the Canadian Association for Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canada has 17 refineries with a total crude oil processing capacity of 2.0 million b/d.[2] Eastern Canada’s eight refineries have 1.2 million b/d of capacity or about 60% of total crude oil refining capacity.[3] Because the eastern refineries are not as well connected to domestic crude oil production supplies, these refineries are more dependent on imported crude oil. Western Canada’s nine refineries have a total capacity of 748,000 b/d. In 2018, Phase One of the North West Redwater’s Sturgeon Refinery came online, which is the first refinery built in Canada since 1984.[4]
  • According to Natural Resources Canada, Canadian production of petroleum products reached 1.9 million b/d in 2018.[5] Most petroleum products are refined into motor gasoline (42%) and diesel fuel oil (30%).[6]
Exports and imports
  • Nearly all of Canada’s crude oil exports were sent to the United States in 2018 (see Figure 3). Currently, the largest regional market in the United States for Canadian crude oil exports is the Midwest where almost all Canadian crude oil exports originate from Western Canada.
  • Canada is the largest source of U.S. crude oil and refined products imports. Crude oil imports from Canada accounted for 48% of total U.S. crude oil imports in 2018, averaging 3.7 million b/d. Refined products imported from Canada accounted for 582,000 b/d, or 27% of total U.S. petroleum product imports.
  • Currently, producers face a complex set of market and logistical challenges. Oil supply in Western Canada exceeds the transport capacity of pipelines serving external markets. As export pipelines operate at full capacity and timing of new capacity remains uncertain, producers are increasingly relying on rail transportation to deliver incremental production to the market. The highest monthly volume imported to the United States from Canada was in January 2019 at 406,000 b/d, compared with a total average of 238,000 b/d in 2018.

Figure 3. Canada crude oil exports by destination, 2018

# figure data


Natural gas

Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of dry natural gas and is the source of most U.S. natural gas imports.

Reserves
  • The Oil & Gas Journal,[7] Canada held 72 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proved natural gas reserves at the end of 2018. Most of Canada’s natural gas reserves are traditional resources in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB), including those associated with the region’s oil fields. Other areas with significant natural gas reserves include offshore fields near the eastern shore of Canada (primarily Newfoundland and Nova Scotia), the Arctic region, and the Pacific coast.
Production and consumption
  • In 2018, Canada produced 5.9 Tcf of dry natural gas and was the fourth-largest producer behind the United States, Russia, and Iran (see Figure 4). Most of Canada’s natural gas production occurs in the prolific WCSB. Although Canadian production of conventional natural gas has been declining, the production of Canadian unconventional natural gas has been rising.
Exports
  • Almost all of Canada’s natural gas exports go to the United States. In 2018, 97% of all U.S. natural gas imports came from Canada. Most of Canada’s natural gas exports to the United States originate in Western Canada and are shipped to U.S. markets in the West and Midwest regions.

Figure 4. Canada's dry natural gas production and consumption

# figure data


Electricity
  • Canada generated an estimated 651 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity in 2017, of which about 60% was hydroelectric. Only China and Brazil produce more hydroelectricity than Canada.[8] Fossil fuel and nuclear plants satisfy most of Canada’s electricity needs not met by hydroelectricity (see Figure 5).
Trade
  • The United States imported 52 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity from Canada in 2018, primarily into the Northeast and Midwest, and exported 73 million MWh, nearly all of which was from the Pacific Northwest. Canada is a net exporter of electricity to the United States, which accounts for a small, although locally important, share of bilateral trade.

Figure 5. Electricity generation by fuel, 2018

# figure data


Coal

As government policy attempts to lower domestic coal consumption, up to 50% of Canada’s coal production is exported.

Reserves
  • Canada’s total proved coal reserves stood at about 6.6 billion short tons in 2018.[9] More than 60% of the reserves are anthracite and bituminous coal. The remaining reserves are subbituminous and lignite coal.[10] Coal resources are located across the country, but they are actively mined and produced in only Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
Production and consumption
  • In 2017, Canada produced 68 million short tons of coal, a slight increase compared with the previous year. About 50% of Canada’s coal production is consumed domestically, a significant departure from more than a decade ago when Canada consumed nearly all of its domestic coal production.
  • In 2018, 49% of coal consumed in Canada was metallurgical coal used for steel manufacturing, and 51% was thermal coal used for electricity generation. Coal generates 9% of total electricity in Canada. In 2018, the government of Canada announced regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030.[11]
Trade
  • Canada exports about half of its coal production. In 2018, Canada was the world's third-largest exporter of metallurgical coal after Australia and the United States. [12] Most of Canada's coal exports go to Asia.

Canada EIA petroleum Reserves production consumption refining exports imports natural gas electricity coal
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January, 24 2020
EIA expects U.S. net natural gas exports to almost double by 2021

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on January 14, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that U.S. natural gas exports will exceed natural gas imports by an average 7.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2020 (2.0 Bcf/d higher than in 2019) and 8.9 Bcf/d in 2021. Growth in U.S. net exports is led primarily by increases in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and pipeline exports to Mexico. Net natural gas exports more than doubled in 2019, compared with 2018, and EIA expects that they will almost double again by 2021 from 2019 levels.

The United States trades natural gas by pipeline with Canada and Mexico and as LNG with dozens of countries. Historically, the United States has imported more natural gas than it exports by pipeline from Canada. In contrast, the United States has been a net exporter of natural gas by pipeline to Mexico. The United States has been a net exporter of LNG since 2016 and delivers LNG to more than 30 countries.

In 2019, growth in demand for U.S. natural gas exports exceeded growth in natural gas consumption in the U.S. electric power sector. Natural gas deliveries to U.S. LNG export facilities and by pipeline to Mexico accounted for 12% of dry natural gas production in 2019. EIA forecasts these deliveries to account for an increasingly larger share through 2021 as new LNG facilities are placed in service and new pipelines in Mexico that connect to U.S. export pipelines begin operations.

Net U.S. natural gas imports from Canada have steadily declined in the past four years as new supplies from Appalachia into the Midwestern states have displaced some pipeline imports from Canada. U.S. pipeline exports to Canada have increased since 2018 when the NEXUS pipeline and Phase 2 of the Rover pipeline entered service. Overall, EIA projects the United States will remain a net natural gas importer from Canada through 2050.

U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico increased following expansions of cross-border pipeline capacity, averaging 5.1 Bcf/d from January through October 2019, 0.5 Bcf/d more than the 2018 annual average, according to EIA’s Natural Gas Monthly. The increase in exports was primarily the result of increased flows on the newly commissioned Sur de Texas–Tuxpan pipeline in Mexico, which transports natural gas from Texas to the southern Mexican state of Veracruz. Several new pipelines in Mexico that were scheduled to come online in 2019 were delayed are expected to enter service in 2020:

  • Pipelines in Central and Southwest Mexico (1.2 Bcf/d La Laguna–Aguascalientes and 0.9 Bcf/d Villa de Reyes–Aguascalientes–Guadalajara)
  • Pipelines in Western Mexico (0.5 Bcf/d Samalayuca–Sásabe)

U.S. LNG exports averaged 5 Bcf/d in 2019, 2 Bcf/d more than in 2018, as a result of several new facilities that placed their first trains in service. This year, several new liquefaction units (referred to as trains) are scheduled to be placed in service:

  • Trains 2 and 3 at Cameron LNG in Louisiana
  • Train 3 at Freeport LNG in Texas
  • Trains 5–10, six Moveable Modular Liquefaction System (MMLS) units, at Elba Island in Georgia

In 2021, the third train at the Corpus Christi facility in Texas is scheduled to come online, bringing the total U.S. liquefaction capacity to 10.2 Bcf/d (baseload) and 10.8 Bcf/d (peak). EIA expects LNG exports to continue to grow and average 6.5 Bcf/d in 2020 and 7.7 Bcf/d in 2021, as facilities gradually ramp up to full production.

monthly natural gas trade

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly

January, 24 2020
EIA forecasts U.S. crude oil production growth to slow in 2021

In the January 2020 update of its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will average 13.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2020, a 9% increase from 2019 production levels, and 13.7 million b/d in 2021, a 3% increase from 2020. Slowing crude oil production growth results from a decline in drilling rigs during the past year that EIA expects will continue through most of 2020. Despite the decline in rigs, EIA forecasts production will continue to grow as rig efficiency and well-level productivity rise, offsetting the decline in the number of rigs until drilling activity accelerates in 2021.

Figure 1. U.S. crude oil production

EIA’s U.S. crude oil production forecast is based on the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) price forecast in the January 2020 STEO, which rises from an average of $57 per barrel (b) in 2019 to an average of $59/b in 2020 and $62/b in 2021. The price forecast is highly uncertain, and any significant divergence of actual prices from the projected price path could change the pace of drilling and new well completion, which would in turn affect production.

Crude oil production in the Lower 48 states has a relatively short investment and production cycle. Changes in Lower 48 crude oil production typically follow changes in crude oil prices and rig counts with about a four- to six-month lag. Because EIA forecasts WTI prices will decline during the first half of 2020 but begin increasing in the second half of the year and into 2021, forecast U.S. crude oil production grows slowly month over month until the end of 2020. In contrast, crude oil production in Alaska and the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is driven by long-term investment that is typically less sensitive to short-term price movements.

In 2019, Lower 48 production reached its largest annual average volume of 9.9 million b/d, and EIA expects it to increase further by an average of 1.0 million b/d in 2020 and 0.4 million b/d in 2021. EIA forecasts the GOM region will grow by 0.1 million b/d in 2020 to 2.0 million b/d and to remain relatively flat in 2021 because several projects expected to come online in 2021 will not start producing until late in the year and will be offset by declines from other producing fields. Alaska’s crude oil production will remain relatively unchanged at about 0.5 million b/d in 2020 and in 2021.

The Permian region remains the most prolific growth region in the United States. Favorable geology combined with technological improvements have contributed to the Permian region’s high returns on investment and years of remaining oil production growth potential. EIA forecasts that Permian production will average 5.2 million b/d in 2020, an increase of 0.8 million b/d from 2019 production levels. For 2021, the Permian will produce an average of 5.6 million b/d. EIA forecasts that the Bakken region in North Dakota will be the second-largest growth area in 2020 and 2021, growing by about 0.1 million b/d in each year (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Monthly U.S. crude oil production by region

EIA expects crude oil prices higher than $60/b in 2021 will contribute to rising crude oil production because producers will be able to fund drilling programs through cash flow and other funding sources, despite a somewhat more restrictive capital market. Financial statements of 46 publically-traded U.S. oil producers reveal that these companies generated sufficient cash from operating activities to fund investment and grow production with WTI prices in the $55/b–$60/b range. The 46 selected companies produced more than 30% of total U.S. liquids production in the third quarter of 2019. The four-quarter moving average free cash flow for these companies ranged between $1.7 billion and $3.5 billion from the fourth quarter of 2017 through the second quarter of 2019. The third quarter of 2019—the latest quarter for which data are available—had less cash from operations than investing activities, but this figure was skewed by the large, one-time acquisition cost of Anadarko Petroleum by Occidental, valued at $55 billion (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Cash flow statement items for 46 U.S. oil producers

Results for these 46 publicly traded companies do not represent all U.S. oil producers because private companies that do not publish financial statements are not included in EIA’s analysis. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Energy Survey sheds some light on the financial position of a broader set of companies. Released quarterly, the bank’s survey asks oil companies about business activity and employment and asks a few special questions that change each quarter. The number of companies that participate varies each quarter, but generally the survey includes about 100 exploration and production companies. In the most recent survey (from the fourth quarter of 2019), 75% of survey respondents said they can cover their capital expenditures through cash flow from operations at a WTI price of less than $60/b. In addition, 40% of survey respondents plan to increase capital expenditures in 2020 compared with 2019, while 24% of respondents expect to spend about the same (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Selected questions from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Energy Survey

Since about 2017, large, globally integrated oil companies have acquired more acreage in Lower 48 regions, particularly in the Permian. These companies have announced investment plans to make Lower 48 production an increasing portion of their portfolios. These companies can typically fund their investment programs through cash flow from operations and are generally less susceptible to tighter capital markets than smaller oil companies. The financial results of the public companies shown in Figure 3 and the Federal Reserve survey support EIA’s production forecast and suggest that U.S. crude oil production can continue to grow under EIA’s price forecast for 2020 and 2021 because many companies are less dependent on debt or equity to fund investment.

U.S. average regular gasoline and diesel prices decline

The U.S. average regular gasoline retail price fell more than 3 cents from the previous week to $2.54 per gallon on January 20, 29 cents higher than the same time last year. The Midwest price fell over 5 cents to $2.39 per gallon, the Gulf Coast price fell nearly 5 cents to $2.23 per gallon, the Rocky Mountain price fell more than 3 cents to $2.57 per gallon, the East Coast price fell more than 2 cents to $2.50 per gallon, and the West Coast price fell nearly 2 cents to $3.18 per gallon.

The U.S. average diesel fuel price fell nearly 3 cents from the previous week to $3.04 per gallon on January 20, 7 cents higher than a year ago. The Rocky Mountain price fell nearly 6 cents to $3.01 per gallon, the East Coast price fell nearly 4 cents to $3.08 per gallon, the Midwest price declined almost 3 cents to $2.94 per gallon, the West Coast price fell nearly 2 cents to $3.57 per gallon, and the Gulf Coast price dropped more than 1 cent to $2.80 per gallon.

Propane/propylene inventories decline

U.S. propane/propylene stocks decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week to 86.5 million barrels as of January 17, 2020, 17.1 million barrels (24.6%) greater than the five-year (2015-19) average inventory levels for this same time of year. Midwest, East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels, 0.4 million barrels, 0.2 million barrels, and 0.1 million barrels, respectively. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 6.9% of total propane/propylene inventories.

Residential heating fuel prices decrease

As of January 20, 2020, residential heating oil prices averaged nearly $3.07 per gallon, 3 cents per gallon below last week’s price and 10 cents per gallon lower than last year’s price at this time. Wholesale heating oil prices averaged almost $1.96 per gallon, more than 7 cents per gallon below last week’s price and more than 7 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

Residential propane prices averaged almost $2.01 per gallon, less than 1 cent per gallon below last week’s price and more than 42 cents per gallon less than a year ago. Wholesale propane prices averaged more than $0.60 per gallon, nearly 4 cents per gallon lower than last week’s price and 20 cents per gallon below last year’s price.

January, 24 2020