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Today in Energy

May 28, 2019

Canada is a key energy trade partner to the United States

value of selected energy trade between Canada and the United States
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) data published by the U.S. Census Bureau
Note: Data displayed are for crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas, and electricity only.

Canada is the largest energy trading partner with the United States based on the combined value of energy exports and imports. Although the value of bilateral energy trade with Canada has varied over the last decade, the overall energy trade balance has changed relatively little, with U.S. energy imports from Canada consistently exceeding U.S. energy exports to Canada by a large margin.

Based on the latest annual Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) data from the U.S. Census Bureau, energy accounted for $25 billion, or about 8%, of the value of all U.S. exports to Canada in 2018, the highest value since 2014. Canada is the second-largest importer of energy from the United States, in terms of trade value, behind only Mexico. Energy accounted for $84 billion, or 26%, of the value of all U.S. imports from Canada in 2018.

monthly volumes of selected energy commodities trade with Canada
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly and Natural Gas Monthly

Crude oil imports from Canada accounted for 48% of total U.S. crude oil imports in 2018, averaging 3.7 million barrels per day (b/d), up from 3.5 million b/d in 2017. In 2018, the value of U.S. imports of Canadian crude oil also increased, reaching $61 billion, because of an increase in both oil prices and volume through the first three quarters of the year.

Canada’s share of U.S. crude oil exports has been falling since restrictions on exporting U.S. crude oil were lifted in 2015, but Canada remains the largest destination for U.S. crude oil exports. U.S. crude oil exports to Canada are typically light, sweet grades that are shipped to the eastern part of the country. Most Canadian crude oil exports to the United States are heavy oil from oil sands in the western part of the country.

Bilateral petroleum products trade between the United States and Canada is relatively balanced in both volume and value. In 2018, Canada was the destination for 581,000 b/d of petroleum products, which was 10% of all petroleum products exported from the United States. These exports were valued at more than $13 billion in 2018.

Bilateral natural gas trade between Canada and the United States is dominated by pipeline shipments, which made up 97% of all U.S. natural gas imports in 2018. Total natural gas imports from Canada fell to 7.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018. Total natural gas imports from Canada were valued at $6 billion in 2018. Most of Canada’s natural gas exports to the United States originate in western Canada and are shipped to U.S. markets in the West and Midwest regions.

U.S. natural gas exports to Canada in 2018 averaged 2.3 Bcf/d, valued at more than $2 billion, and they mainly went to the eastern provinces. U.S. natural gas exports to Canada were 3.3 Bcf/d in February 2019, the highest level on record.

Electricity accounts for a small, though locally important, share of bilateral trade. In 2018, the value of U.S. imports of electricity from Canada was over $2 billion. The United States imported 61 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity from Canada in 2018, primarily into the Northeast and Midwest, and exported 13 million MWh, nearly all of which was from the Pacific Northwest, based on data from Canada’s National Energy Board.

Principal contributor: Natalie Kempkey