Oil production drives a lot of economic growth in Canada, but that oil is valuable because it’s refined into products the world craves like gasoline and jet fuel. Canada does plenty of refining. The National Energy Board’s Canadian Refinery Overview report says it ranks 11th in global refining capacity. Although not often talked about, the sector creates thousands of jobs across the country and keeps our vehicles on the road, our homes heated and planes in the air.
Inputs and outputs
The oil that Canadian refineries use doesn’t match the nation’s overall production profile. The country’s refineries here use far more light and medium crude oil than Canada produces. That’s largely because the refining complexes in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario still import large quantities of the stuff whereas refineries in Western Canada use oil and bitumen sourced from that region.
Refineries take crude oil and bitumen and turn them into a variety of products. What follows is a rundown of what those products are and how much a typical refinery churns out.
Note: The percentages in question add up to above 100 due to refinery process gain. According to the EIA website, one barrel of crude oil (42 gallons) will produce 45 gallons of product for a 6/7 percent gain.
Mix and match
The Saint John and Come by Chance refineries import their crude from a more diverse group of suppliers than any other in the country. Why? Because there are no pipelines taking Western Canadian production to those two refineries (the mothballed Energy East project would have partly solved that issue) and railing it from the West is expensive. What follows is a tally of where the two refineries imported oil comes from.
Big fish, bigger pond
Although Irving Oil’s refinery in Saint John is Canada’s largest (with a capacity of 300,000 bpd), its daily output is dwarfed by other refineries around the globe.
Refineries in Canada take in a mix of crude types to use as feedstock. But refineries in Eastern Canada don’t use as much heavy oil and synthetic crude and bitumen produced in Western Canada compared to facilities in the West.
NOTE: Due to confidentiality rules, Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada data could not be included.