Canada is looking for ways to increase pipeline flows of crude oil to its southern neighbor, Canadian natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson told Reuters in an interview.
"We are looking at whether our pipeline network is fully utilized," Wilkinson said, adding that Ottawa was also looking to raise crude oil exports to Europe "incrementally".
"Both our liquids and natural gas systems are at or near capacity but we're exploring options that may be taken to provide more energy to the U.S. and Europe. That includes using export facilities on the Gulf Coast for crude and natural gas," Wilkinson explained.
Canada's oil exports to the United States hit a record level earlier this year, with a lot of the crude going to the Gulf Coast and, from there, to non-North American markets. In 2021, according to cargo-tracking data, the rate of Canadian crude oil exports from the Gulf Coast reached more than 180,000 bpd, up from some 70,000 bpd in the two previous years.
Oil production from the oil sands is also running at a record 3.5 million bpd, but pipeline constraints remain. Most of the oil Canadian producers export to the U.S.—some 4 million bpd in total—passes through the Enbridge Mainline pipeline system, and the remainder, around 590,000 bpd, flows through the Keystone pipeline.
Boosting pipeline capacity may be on the table, but, according to the Reuters report, not all Canadian oil producers may be willing to spend on production growth at a time when both the U.S. and the Canadian government are following an anti-fossil fuel political course.
For pipeline operators, the situation is uncertain, too. Reuters quoted Enbridge as saying it was in talks with Ottawa on how to alleviate the energy crisis in the United States but without providing any specifics. Boosting exports by rail has also been discussed as an option, but, according to experts, no amount of increase in Canadian oil exports to the U.S. would be able to fully replace Russian oil imports.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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