Quebec needs Albertan, not foreign imported oil


According to the most recent Canadian Energy Centre Fact Sheet, the largest recipient in Canada of foreign oil since 1988 is Quebec, accounting for 47 percent of the nationwide total. With the province spending $225-billion in foreign oil imports over the past 30 years - since fossil fuels are not produced in Quebec - Canada's suppliers for crude oil imports have become less diverse, particularly over the last decade.


In 2019, foreign oil imports, valued at $19-billion, mostly constituted the United States ($13.8-billion) and Saudi Arabia ($3.1-billion), to the benefit of those above. However, Canada has slowed in global oil and gas investment. 2016 census data indicated the value of foreign oil imports per household was an astounding $1,576.00 in the province, nearly 50 percent greater than the national average of $1,021 per household.


According to the Montreal Economic Institute, 39 percent of Quebec's energy consumption is crude oil, trailing only to electricity, which constituted 40 percent. Despite technological breakthroughs in the sector, research into a replacement solution to fossil fuels will continue. The hostility towards pipelines remains, despite costly hydroelectricity and the International Energy Agency predicting that crude oil will remain the primary energy source globally until at least 2035.


For Quebec, crude oil was the largest imported product in 2012 at $13.7-billion. With imported oil mostly from Algeria (28.1 percent), the United Kingdom (16.1%) and the Atlantic provinces (11.9 percent). However, those numbers declined significantly following the 2014 market crash in oil prices, with the United States constituting 64 percent of crude oil imports in 2018 and maintaining dominance over the Quebec and Canadian markets, owing mainly to unstable commodity prices, decreased competitiveness in Canadian markets, and greater ability to refine heavier crudes south of the border.


The decreased competitiveness, measured primarily by which business to invest in and where to invest, demonstrated that Canada saw capital expenditures fall in the oil and gas extraction sector since 2014; this paints a stark image for future investment in the country struggling to regain its competitive advantage. With investment taking a $43-billion nosedive between 2014 and 2019, $33-billion in total investment represents a 55.7 percent contraction over the past five years.


An interesting find from the Montreal Economic Institute study worth noting is that while Quebec's balance of trade is negative internationally, it remains positive interprovincially. When it comes to crude oil, they represent 20 percent of Canada's refinery capacity, but none was supplied by Alberta - who provides three-quarters of Canadian crude.


The lack of market access to Quebec has remained since the early-1990s but changed with the Enbridge Pipeline System's re-reversing between Sarnia and Montreal. From 1997 to 2015, Line 9B transported crude westbound, reaching upwards of 300,000 barrels per day. In 2015, it was re-reversed towards Montreal after an extensive and thorough review process by the National Energy Board (NEB), consisting of the Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project approved in March of 2014.


In 2014, United States' refineries refined 74 percent of Alberta Oil, and Alberta Oil Exports went predominantly to the United States (92 percent). In 2018, those exports declined to 89 percent of total crude exports, demonstrating American dominance over Canadian oil crude.


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