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Canada–U.S. energy relations

Canadians and Americans share the closest energy relationship in the world. Energy infrastructure—including oil and gas pipeline networks and electricity grids—is tightly integrated. Canada is the United States’ largest and most secure supplier of oil, natural gas, electricity and uranium.

In 2009: 

  • Canada provided energy exports to the U.S. valued at $76.27 billion, while Canada’s energy imports from the U.S. totalled almost $11.5 billion.
  • Recent data indicates that Canada supplies the U.S. with 9% of its total energy demand.
  • Canada exported almost 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products to the United States.
  • Canada provided 87% of all U.S. natural gas imports, representing 12% of U.S. consumption.
  • Canada and the United States share an integrated electricity grid and supply almost all of each other’s electricity imports.
  • Hydroelectric power, a clean, renewable source, accounts for nearly two-thirds of Canada’s electricity generation, and is a significant component of Canada’s electricity exports to the United States.
  • Canada supplied approximately one-third of the uranium used in U.S. nuclear power plants.


Canada: the largest oil supplier to the United States

Since 1999, Canada has been the largest supplier of U.S. crude and refined oil imports. In 2009, Canadian crude oil and petroleum products represented 21% of U.S. crude oil imports, at nearly 2.5 million barrels per day, or 13% of total U.S. oil consumption.

Canada is the world’s 6th largest oil producer. In 2009, Canada’s total oil production was 3.3 million barrels a day; output is expected to rise further with increased development of oil sands.

Canada’s reserves represent a safe, secure and long-term supply of oil for North America

  • Canada has the world’s second-largest proved reserves (after Saudi Arabia) at 174 billion barrels, 170 billion of which are in the oil sands. These oil sands reserves are recoverable using existing technology at current prices. Petroleum development is taking place not only in the oil sands, but in several areas of Canada including the north and in the Atlantic offshore region.
  • As technology improves to reduce costs and environmental impacts, it is expected that additional portions of Canada’s in-place oil sands reserves (1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels) will become available. 
  • U.S. firms are significant investors, producers and developers of new technology in Canada’s oil sector. Similarly, Canadian oil companies are major investors in the U.S. petroleum industry, providing jobs and income for Americans.
  • As oil exports from Canada increase, pipelines and refineries are expanding in the United States, representing growing investment and more jobs for Americans.

The oil sands and sustainable development

Like all energy production, oil sands production has led to environmental impacts. Canada, Alberta and the industry continue efforts to reduce GHG emissions from oil sands production. On a per barrel basis, GHG emissions have fallen by 29% from 1990 to 2008; further reductions are expected through more stringent regulatory standards and investments in new technologies. A range of new technologies are being developed to reduce the impacts of oil sands extraction and processing, including carbon capture and sequestration.

Leadership in carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Canada is also investing to ensure that we achieve our emission reduction objectives through technology such as carbon capture and sequestration. Canada and the United States have already collaborated successfully and one such project, Weyburn-Midale, is the largest carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage project in the world.  Since 2000. it has resulted in the sequestration of approximately 10 million tonnes of CO2.

For more information about the oil sands, please visit:


Canada: the largest electricity supplier to the United States

Canada and the United States share an integrated electricity grid and supply almost all of each other’s electricity imports. Canada is a major supplier of electricity to New England, New York, the Upper Midwest, the Pacific Northwest and California.

Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of hydroelectricity, producing about 13% of the world’s total. Hydroelectricity represents 59% of Canada’s total electricity generation—representing over three times the global average.

In fact, 77% of Canada’s electricity comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases.

Canadian electricity represents a reliable source of power and is a key element in ensuring long-term North American energy security and addressing our collective climate change challenges.

Natural Gas

Canada: the largest natural gas supplier to the United States

Canada is the third-largest natural gas producer in the world, producing 5.6 trillion cubic feet per year. Canada is also the world’s second-largest exporter of natural gas.

In 2009, Canada provided 87% of all U.S. natural gas imports, representing 12% of U.S. consumption.

Canadian exports of natural gas go primarily to the U.S. Northeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, California and Pacific Northwest.

Canada is continually investing in natural gas exploration and infrastructure.

  • Canada’s proved natural gas reserves are estimated at 58 trillion cubic feet. However, these proved reserves represent only a small portion of the natural gas which could eventually be produced in Canada.  Canada’s remaining marketable natural gas resources are currently estimated at 439 trillion cubic feet.
  • In the Mackenzie Delta, there are plans to develop a new pipeline projects to access arctic natural gas resources.
  • Open, efficient and well-regulated markets with cooperative policies facilitate natural gas investments and strengthen North American energy security.
  • Expectations for the longer-term outlook for natural gas are changing.  Shale gas resources could allow for North American natural gas production to increase substantially. Canadian interest in shale gas production is growing quickly, particularly in the Horn River and Montney Basins in northeast British Columbia.
  • Estimates of Canada’s in-place unconventional natural gas resources (including shale gas, tight gas and coal bed methane) range as high as several thousand trillion cubic feet.

Nuclear Energy

Canada has the world’s largest known high-grade uranium deposits and was the world’s leading producer of uranium in 2008, accounting for roughly one-fifth of the total global mine production. The uranium mined in Canada contains more energy potential than does all of our annual oil and natural gas production combined.

Canada supplies approximately one-third of the uranium used in U.S. nuclear power plants, in the course of which providing over 5% of the total U.S. supply of electricity.

About 15% of Canada’s electricity is produced by nuclear power.  Ontario’s three nuclear power plants, with 18 reactors, provide more than 50% of the province’s electricity. Quebec and New Brunswick each have one nuclear power plant.

Nuclear energy is a safe, reliable, economic and clean energy source.

  • Without nuclear power, Canadian and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be about 10% higher annually. Emissions of other air pollutants would also be higher.

Renewable Sources of Energy

Canada is committed to making its energy production and use cleaner by increasing energy efficiency, expanding renewable energy production and reducing environmental impacts from conventional sources. The Government of Canada has introduced a number of initiatives in this regard, including $1.5 billion invested to increase Canada’s energy supplies from renewable sources such as solar, tidal, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal power.


  • Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of clean, renewable hydroelectric power.
  • Approximately 60% of the electricity generated in Canada in 2008 came from hydroelectric power plants.
  • There is the potential to more than double hydroelectric capacity in Canada.
  • Hydro power accounts for 97% of Canada's renewable electricity generation and nearly 13% of the global production of hydropower.
  • Canada is a world leader in hydropower production, with an installed capacity of over 70,858 megawatts (MW), and an annual average production of 350 terawatt-hour (TWh).

Wind power

  • Canada’s total wind energy capacity is now more than 3,300 MW – a ten-fold increase in six years.  Canada now produces the equivalent to power 1,000,000 homes.
  • The 3,000 MW level was met and exceeded in 2009 and Canada now has enough installed wind energy capacity to meet over 1% of Canada’s electricity needs.
  • There are 25,000 MW of wind projects in various stages of development.

Solar power

  • Solar energy production is growing in Canada. Since 1998, solar thermal energy has increased by 17% per year, while solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity has grown by 27% per year since 1993. So far, most of the market for solar PV has been in off-grid applications, which in 2007 accounted for 89% of this capacity. Total installed PV capacity increased 27% in 2008 to 32.7 MW.  84% of this increase was from stand alone applications, often remotely located.
  • As of 2008, there were approximately 717,000 m2 of solar collectors operating in Canada that displaced an estimated 50,000 tonnes of CO2.


  • In 2007, biomass created 1,380 MW of electrical energy.
  • Almost 6% of the total energy consumed in Canada is produced from biomass. The majority of this production is in the pulp and paper industry, which uses by-products to produce steam and electricity.

Geothermal power

  • There are more than 30,000 geothermal energy installations in Canada. They are used for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial purposes.


  • Canada is a world leader in the development of processes for converting cellulosic-based feedstocks, such as agricultural and forestry waste, to cellulosic ethanol.
  • Ethanol production plants currently operate in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
  • Environment Canada will require 5% renewable content in gasoline fuel by 2010 and 2% renewable content in diesel and heating oil by 2012.
  • With support from the Government of Canada, Iogen Corporation built the world's first full-scale demonstration plant to convert biomass fibres to cellulosic ethanol using enzyme technology. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, the plant can process over 25 tonnes of wheat straw per week, using enzymes produced in an adjacent facility.
  • Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from a variety of fats and vegetable oils, which include oilseeds such as canola and soybeans, rendered animal fats, recycled restaurant grease and palm oil.
  • Canada’s current biodiesel fuel production capacity is 105 million litres or 27.7 million gallons. By the end of 2008, capacity is expected to rise to 140 million litres or 37 million gallons.

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