Canadians use a lot of oil. We export a lot of oil, too. But we also import a lot of oil. We imported nearly 780,000 barrels of oil per day in 2010, and we exported 1.94 million barrels per day. (Statistics Canada, Energy Statistics Handbook, 2Q, 2011 Table 4.1, http://bit.ly/AeqUBL)
On paper this looks like we should have energy security, but the oil is not distributed evenly. Oil from Hibernia on the East Coast is exported, as is Athabasca bitumen crude. Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces rely on oil from Angola, Nigeria, Venezuela, Norway, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. In fact, 100% of the oil used in Quebec and the four Atlantic Provinces is imported.
In hearings before the House Natural Resources Committee, I heard executives from the oil industry say that if there was a disruption of supply to get oil to Eastern Canada, they could send tankers down through the Panama Canal to get to Eastern Canada. The U.S. also has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure security of supply. Does anyone find it odd that Canada does not? I think we should have a plan to ensure energy security for Canada. To do so, we would need to reverse some existing pipeline flows and invest in upgrading some of the existing pipeline infrastructure.