Market Snapshot: Canada is spending less money on energy imports

Connect/Contact Us

Energy Information RSS Feed

Please send comments, questions, or suggestions for Market Snapshot topics to snapshots@cer-rec.gc.ca

Release date: 2019-12-18

Both energy imports and exports are important components of Canada’s international trade. From 1987 to 2017, the value of Canada’s energy imports increased seven times. But over 2012-2019Footnote 1, it decreased from about $11.9 billion to $9.1 billion, while the value of all Canadian imports increased from about $164.5 billion to $217.4 billion over the same time period.Footnote 2 When looked at as a share of total value, energy decreased from 7.3% in 2012 to 4.2% in 2019.

Figure 1. Value of Canadian Imports (2012 - 2019)

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada Table 36-10-0110-01

Description: This area graph shows the value of Canadian imports quarterly from the first quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2019. The total value of Canadian imports increased from $164.5 billion in 2012 to $217.4 billion in 2019. The share and value of energy imports decreased over the period 2012 - 2019. The share of energy imports decreased from 7.3% in 2012 to 4.2% in 2019, with the biggest drop, to 3%, in early 2016. The value of energy imports decreased from $11.9 billion in 2012 to $9.1 billion in 2019, with the biggest drop, to $5.61 billion, in early 2016. Both the value and the share of motor vehicles and parts imports, the largest source of imports, have increased, as well as the value and the share of the second largest imports, consumer goods.

Crude oil remains the largest cost component of imported energy even though its share fell from 67.2% of energy imports in 2012 to 48.1% in 2019. Some eastern Canadian refineries import crude oil because they cannot refine Canadian heavy crude oil, are not connected to western Canadian production by pipelines, or they can find a cheaper source of supply outside of Canada. The cost to import crude oil fell largely because global oil prices are significantly lower now than they were before 2015.

Natural gas and natural gas liquids increased their share in energy import from 8% in 2012 to 12.5% in 2019. This is because Ontario and Quebec have been importing more natural gas from the Appalachian Basin in the northeast U.S., where gas production has grown from less than 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2009 to over 30 Bcf/d in 2019, or about twice Canada’s 2019 gas production.

Refined petroleum products’ share of energy-import value increased from 19.4% in the beginning of 2012 to 36.3% in the middle of 2019. This is because some Canadian refineries have closed, causing higher imports of products like gasoline and diesel.

Electricity’s share remains low and has been stable from 2012 to 2019 (from 0.5% to 0.7%). The share of other imported energy products, like coal and nuclear fuel, has slightly increased, from 3.3% in the beginning of 2012 to 5.5% in the middle of 2019.

Figure 2. Share of Canadian Energy Import Values by Product (2012 - 2019)

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada Table 36-10-0110-01

Description: The stacked area chart illustrates the shares of different energy products imported by Canada from 2012 to 2019 by value. In 2012 crude oil accounted for about 67% of the value of energy imports, natural gas and natural gas liquids accounted for about 9%, electricity 0.5%, refined petroleum products (RPPs) 19%, and other energy products, which includes mostly coal and nuclear fuel, accounted for 19%. By 2017, crude oil and bitumen accounted for 48% of total energy imports, natural gas and natural gas liquids accounted for 9%, electricity 0.7%, RPPs 36%, and other energy products 5%.

Date modified: