Despite sitting on an ocean of oil, Canada still buys $300 million per month of Saudi crude
Over the last 10 years, Canada has spent $20.9 billion on Saudi crude
Between 2007 and 2017, Statistics Canada figures show that Canada imported a total of $20.9 billion of Saudi Arabian petroleum oils. For context, this is almost precisely what Canada spends on its military per year. It’s also way more than the expected $15.7 billion cost of the Energy East pipeline. On average, in recent years, Saudi Arabia supplies about 10 per cent of Canada’s oil imports. Canada, in turn, is responsible for buying roughly 1.5 per cent of total Saudi oil exports. What’s more, Saudi Arabia is climbing the leader board of countries that Canada’s relies upon for its foreign oil. As recently as 2010, Saudi Arabia ranked as Canada’s fifth largest supplier of foreign oil (behind Algeria, Norway, the U.K. and Kazakhstan). Now, Saudi Arabia is second only to the United States.
Right now, all the Saudi oil is coming through a single New Brunswick refinery
All of the Saudi oil imported into Canada in 2017 and 2018 came through New Brunswick, which only has one oil import facility: The massive Irving Oil-owned Saint John refinery. Between January and June of this year that refinery has imported $1.8 billion of Saudi oil — roughly $10 million per day. The amount of U.S. oil entering the refinery, for comparison, is equivalent only to about $3.8 million per day. Unlike most Canadian refineries, Saint John has no access to a pipeline; every barrel of oil it processes either comes by tanker or train. (The oil train that caused the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, in fact, was headed to the Saint John refinery). “We source crude oil from all over the world for our refinery in Saint John, N.B.,” a spokesman for Irving Oil told the National Post in 2016. And whenever someone is seeking out oil from the world market, it’s not unusual that a lot of it is going to come from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It’s like turning to the world market to buy the cheapest possible t-shirts: Chances are that they’re going to come from Bangladesh. ...
On paper, Canada could become energy self-sufficient tomorrow. Every day we produce about 3.9 million barrels of oil per day, and use less than 2 million barrels. A study this year from the Canadian Energy Research Institute even calculated that energy self-sufficiency might reduce emissions.
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