Canada: The Next Oil Superpower?

April 22, 2014 Topic: Security Region: Canada

Canada: The Next Oil Superpower?

Forget Keystone XL—Canada has bigger dreams. But can Ottawa pull it off?


But pipelines aren’t the only way Canada will get its tar sands crude to foreign export markets. Like the United States, Canada is experiencing a rapid boom in shipping oil by rail, and tar sands crude is the main product. Jameson Berkow of Business News Network talks about increases in figures—As recently as five years ago, Canada’s daily volume by train was only 1,000 barrels, or about two tanker cars. Currently, about “550,000 barrels move on Canadian railways each day, equal to about 800 tanker cars. By the end of this year, that figure is expected to top 1,000,000 barrels per day”, soaring to about 1.5 million daily by mid-2015.

Compare that figure to Canada’s largest existing pipeline network: Enbridge’s Mainline, which carries 2 million of the 2.4 million barrels per day that Canada exports to the United States.


In sum: With or without Keystone XL, Canada is likely to build enough pipeline and rail capacity to get vast amounts of tar sands petroleum to markets around the world, from Istanbul to Mumbai to Beijing. Environmentalists everywhere will have yet more reason to despair about the dwindling chances of stopping runaway global warming caused by burning of dirty fossil fuels.

Canada will have a new swagger on the world stage. O Canada!

Robert Collier is a writer and consultant on U.S. and global energy policy.

Image: Flickr/Stephen Harper/CC by-nc-nd 2.0