Canadian 2021 crude imports slid to lowest since 1988, says CER

Crude oil imports into Canada in 2021 dropped to their lowest in more than three decades as domestic supply from pipelines increased while a major refinery in Newfoundland remained idle, the Canada Energy Regulator said on Wednesday.

Imports decreased by nearly 20% in 2021 to 473,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 579,000 bpd in 2020, the CER said in an analysis.

A variety of factors contributed to the dip, including pipelines flowing more domestic crude into Ontario/Quebec and the Cresta Fund Management-owned 135,000 bpd Come-by-Chance Refinery in Newfoundland remaining idle, the regulator said.

The total cost of imported crude oil was $14.7 billion in 2021, an increase of 30% from 2020 at $11.3 billion, following global crude prices recovering in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic, the analysis from the CER said.

Canada is the world’s fourth-largest crude producer and exports around 3.7 million bpd, but the vast majority of its production comes from the western province of Alberta.

The percentage of barrels imported from the United States rose to 66% in 2021 from 75% in 2020. Saudi Arabia supplied 15%, while Nigeria supplied 13%.

Imports from Nigeria increased nearly 40,000 bpd in 2021, the largest year-on-year change for of imports from any country.

There were no imports from Russia for 2021 or 2020, the analysis added.

While Canada produces more crude than its refineries require to produce refined petroleum products (RPPs) from, western provinces in Canada still import crude oil as they are located away from major production sources, CER said.

Imports of RPPs increased by 7%, to 450,000 bpd in 2021 from 422,000 bpd in 2020, with Alberta importing nearly half of Canada’s total imported RPPs. The United States supplied the most (76%), followed by the Netherlands (8%).

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