The National Energy Board says Canadian oil exports rose by 6.5 per cent last year to 3.3 million barrels per day despite an increase in light shale oil production in the United States, Canada’s biggest customer and competitor.
The federal regulator says heavy crude made up 77 per cent or 2.5 million bpd of Canadian exports, continuing a trend that has resulted in such exports rising by 48 per cent over the past five years as new oilsands projects come on stream in Alberta.
Light oil exports fell six per cent in 2017 to 760,000 bpd, a reduction of 13 per cent from five years ago.
The NEB says the U.S. still wants to buy Canadian heavy crude because many of its refineries are configured to process it and it is a cheaper feedstock than light oil.
Higher oil prices and volumes resulted in the value of Canada’s oil exports rising to $66.9 billion in 2017 from $49.9 billion the year before.
Last year, about 90 per cent of crude oil exports were moved by pipeline to the U.S., according to the NEB. Crude-by-rail export volumes rose 44 per cent due to pipeline capacity constraints, but remained a much less-utilized option at about 130,000 bpd.