Canada becomes the largest source of energy imports in the United States
According to EIA data from the US Energy Information Administration, Canada is the largest source of energy imports in the United States and the second largest destination for US energy exports, second only to Mexico. Energy is an important part of trade between Canada and the United States. According to the latest annual Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, energy accounted for 27% of total U.S. imports from Canada, at $85 billion. Crude oil and petroleum products account for 91% of the value of US energy imports from Canada and 89% of the value of US energy exports to Canada.
In 2019, the United States exported 23 billion US dollars worth of crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas and electricity to Canada, accounting for about 8% of the total US exports to Canada, the second highest level after peaking in 2014.
In 2019, US crude oil imports from Canada accounted for 56% of total US crude oil imports, with an average daily volume of 3.8 million barrels, up from 3.7 million barrels in 2018. In 2019, the daily volume of US crude oil exported to Canada was 459,000 barrels, and Canada remains the largest destination for US crude oil exports. The crude oil exported from the United States to Canada is usually light and low-sulfur, and is shipped to eastern Canada. Most of the US crude oil imported from Canada comes from the oil sands of Alberta (Western Canada), and most of it is exported to refineries in the Midwestern United States. Most of the crude oil imported from Canada by the United States is heavy, and oil sands from Alberta (Western Canada) are mostly exported to refineries in the Midwestern United States.
Because Canada's pipeline transportation sometimes fails to meet Canada's growing crude oil production, crude oil trade via rail becomes more attractive. As a result, crude oil imported from Canada by rail from the United States increased from an average of 91,000 barrels per day in 2016 to 300,000 barrels per day in 2019, which has more than tripled. More than half of the crude oil imported by rail (171,000 barrels per day) flows to the US Gulf Coast.
The trade in petroleum products between the United States and Canada is relatively balanced in quantity and value. Canada is the largest source of US oil and refined oil imports. In 2019, the United States imported a record 610,000 barrels per day of petroleum products from Canada, accounting for 26% of the total US petroleum product imports last year. The total value of these imports exceeds US$14 billion.
The natural gas trade between the United States and Canada is dominated by pipeline transportation, and pipeline transportation will account for 98% of total natural gas imports in the United States in 2019. Historically, the United States imported more natural gas than it exported to Canada through pipelines. In 2019, the total daily import of natural gas imported from Canada by the United States was 7.4 billion cubic feet, valued at US$ 6 billion. Most of the natural gas imported by the United States from Canada originates in Western Canada and is then shipped to the Western and Midwestern markets. Natural gas exported from the United States to Canada is mainly shipped to the eastern provinces of Canada.
Electricity accounts for a small share of the U.S.-Canada’s energy trade, but it is important locally. The power systems of the two countries are fully interconnected markets. They share more than 30 major cross-border power transmission lines, which also supports the reliability of the power system. In 2019, the United States imported 52 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity from Canada and exported 14 million megawatt-hours (MWh) to Canada. The Pacific Northwest is the main source of electricity exported to Canada, and most of the electricity imported from Canada to the United States flows to the northeastern states.