Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – British Columbia
Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production
Source and Description:
This graph shows hydrocarbon production in B.C. from 2007 to 2017. Over this period, increased from 37.7 Mb/d to 83 Mb/d. Natural gas production increased from 2.6 Bcf/d to 4.6 Bcf/d.
Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2017)
Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map
Source and Description:
NEB, Natural Resources Canada
This map shows electricity generation facilities in B.C. Facilities are shown by capacity and by primary fuel source.
PDF version [1320 KB]
Figure 4: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all major crude oil pipelines, rail lines, and refineries in B.C.
PDF version [440 KB]
Figure 5: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all major natural gas pipelines in B.C.
PDF version [560 KB]
Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Sector (2016)
Source and Description:
This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in B.C. by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 1 165 PJ in 2016. The largest sector was industrial at 46% of total demand, followed by transportation (at 29%), residential (at 13%), and lastly, commercial (at 12%).
Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2016)
Source and Description:
This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in B.C. in 2016. Refined petroleum products accounted for 447 PJ (38%) of demand, followed by natural gas at 346 PJ (30%), electricity at 226 PJ (19%), biofuels at 140 PJ (12%), and other at 6 PJ (less than 1%).
Note: "Other" includes coal, coke, and coke oven gas.
Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector
Source and Description:
This stacked column graph shows GHG emissions in B.C. by sector every five years from 1990 to 2016 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have increased in B.C. from 51 MT of CO2e in 1990 to 60 MT of CO2e in 2016.
- British Columbia (B.C.) produced 75.5 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of crude oil in 2017 (Figure 1). All B.C. production is light oil (conventional light or pentanes plus), and is generally from the northeast portion of the province.
- B.C.’s production represented 1.7% of total Canadian production, ranking it 4th after Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Refined Petroleum Products (RPPs)
- B.C. has two refineries with a combined capacity of 67 Mb/d: Husky in Prince George and Parkland in Burnaby.
- Husky has a capacity of 12 Mb/d and mostly consumes light and synthetic crude oil from western Canada.
- Parkland has a capacity of 55 Mb/d and mostly consumes heavier western Canadian crude transported via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Parkland Fuels acquired the refinery from Chevron in April 2017.
Natural Gas/Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)
- In 2017, natural gas production in B.C. averaged 4.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) (Figure 1). B.C.’s production represented about 29% of total Canadian natural gas production in 2017.
- Natural gas is produced in the northeastern part of B.C., led by the Montney formation. Development of tight gas in the Montney is the primary factor behind B.C.’s gas production doubling between 2006 and 2017.
- Other significant gas resources are located in the Horn River and Liard Basins. B.C.’s marketable natural gas resource has been assessed by the NEB at 576 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), with 544.2 Tcf remaining at year-end 2017.
- In 2017, field production of NGLs was 111 Mb/d. B.C.’s NGL production represents about 12% of total Canadian production. Small volumes of propane and butane are also produced at B.C.’s two refineries.
- AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal announced a final investment decision in January 2017. The facility will be constructed near Price Rupert and will transport a maximum of 46 Mb/d of propane to Asia-Pacific markets when completed in 2019. This facility will be Canada’s first propane export terminal.
- Pembina’s Prince Rupert Terminal could export a maximum of 25 Mb/d of propane, and is expected to be in service in mid-2020, subject to necessary regulatory and environmental approvals.
Electricity and Renewables
- In 2017, B.C. generated 76.4 terawatt hours (TW.h) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 11% of total Canadian generation. B.C. is the 4th largest producer of electricity in Canada and has a generating capacity of 17 701 megawatts (MW).
- BC Hydro generates most of B.C.’s electricity. Independent power producers operate several smaller hydroelectric plants as well as all the biomass and wind facilities.
- About 90% of electricity in B.C. is produced from hydroelectric sources. B.C. is home to over 15 709 MW of hydroelectric capacity, most of which is located on the Columbia River in southeastern B.C. and the Peace River in northeastern B.C (Figure 3). Site C, a new 1 100 MW hydroelectric facility, is currently under construction on the Peace River. The project is expected to be complete in 2024.
- BC Hydro is also entitled to half of the power generated on the Columbia River in the U.S. as a result of the Columbia River Treaty, which was signed in 1961. The agreement was created to manage water flows and downstream flooding in the United States (U.S.). The Columbia River Basin provides over 40% of B.C.’s electrical power.
- Biomass, which relies mostly on waste from B.C.’s extensive forestry industry, is used to generate about 5% of B.C.’s electricity. Other sources of power include wind, natural gas, and petroleum (used in off-grid communities).
Energy Transportation and Trade
Crude Oil and Liquids
- There are two major crude oil pipelines in B.C.: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline and Pembina’s NEBC/Western Pipeline (Figure 4).
- The Trans Mountain Pipeline delivers crude oil and refined petroleum products from Edmonton, Alberta to Kamloops, Burnaby, and the U.S. Trans Mountain has a current system capacity of 300 Mb/d.
- In November 2016, the Government of Canada granted approval for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP), which would increase system capacity to 890 Mb/d. In May 2018, the Government of Canada stated its intention to purchase the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline and the TMEP from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
- On August 30, 2018, a Federal Court of Appeal decision quashed the Governor in Council’s (GIC) approval of the TMEP. On August 31, 2018, the Trans Mountain Pipeline system and the TMEP were acquired by the Government of Canada. On September 20, 2018 the GIC referred aspects of the NEB’s Recommendation Report for the TMEP back to the NEB for reconsideration.
- The NEBC/Western Pipeline has a 50 Mb/d capacity and ships crude oil from Taylor, B.C. to the Prince George refinery and to an interconnect with Trans Mountain in Kamloops. The NEBC portion of the system transports liquids, including condensate produced in the Montney region, to Taylor.
- There are two crude oil rail offloading facilities in B.C., both located in Burnaby. The Parkland refinery has a facility capable of offloading about 7 Mb/d of crude oil. Nearby, Bulk Plus operates a facility capable of offloading about 3 Mb/d of crude oil.
- In general, natural gas produced in B.C. is either: delivered to demand centres in B.C. on pipelines operated by Enbridge Westcoast, FortisBC, or Pacific Northern Gas (PNG); exported to Alberta and beyond on TransCanada’s Nova Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) system; or exported to the U.S. (Figure 5).
- NGTL is expanding to accommodate new supply from the Montney formation in northeast B.C. and northwest Alberta.
- NGTL’s Towerbirch Expansion was completed in December 2017 and now provides producers in the Tower Lake area with access to the NGTL system. NGTL’s application for the North Montney Project was approved by the NEB in May 2018. The expansion will transport natural gas from the North Montney area to the existing NGTL system.
- B.C. natural gas is exported to the U.S. Pacific Northwest at the Huntingdon export point, where Westcoast connects with Williams’ Northwest Pipeline; or exported to the U.S. Midwest via the Alliance Pipeline, which runs through Alberta to the Alameda, Saskatchewan export point.
- FortisBC distributes gas to approximately 1.1 million customers in 135 communities on over 2 800 kilometres (km) of pipelines. PNG serves approximately 42 thousand customers in the corridor between Summit Lake and Prince Rupert, and in the Fort St. John and Dawson Creek area. FortisBC and PNG are provincially regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
- FortisBC operates the small-scale Tilbury Island LNG facility near Vancouver. The facility has been in operation since 1971 and serves local markets during peak winter demand. Tilbury also provides LNG for fleet vehicles and in recent years started producing LNG for electricity generation in Whitehorse, Yukon and Inuvik, NWT.
- Tilbury has a current storage capacity of 600 million cubic feet (MMcf) and liquefaction capabilities of 4.24 MMcf/d. An expansion of the facility is planned. Once complete, storage capacity will almost double to 1 025 MMcf and liquefaction capabilities will increase nearly five-fold to 31.7 MMcf/d.
- Several more small-scale LNG plants are proposed near Fort Nelson, B.C.
- Many large-scale LNG export facilities have been proposed for the B.C. coast. Since 2010, the NEB has issued 26 natural gas export licenses for B.C. projects. To date, none have started construction.
- In October 2018, LNG Canada reached a final investment decision to build a LNG export facility in Kitimat. The project is joint venture between Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi Corporation, and KOGAS.
- Pacific Oil & Gas Limited’s Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish reached a final investment decision in 2016. In September 2018, a 13-year offtake agreement was signed between Woodfibre and China’s CNOOC Gas and Power Trading & Marketing Ltd. The agreement is set to start in 2023.
- All LNG export facilities would be regulated by the BCUC.
- In 2017, B.C.’s net interprovincial and international electricity outflows were 5.9 TW.h. B.C. trades primarily with the U.S., and to a lesser extent, Alberta.
- On an annual basis, B.C. is occasionally a net importer of electricity but because of its ability to buy electricity from the U.S. when prices are lower and sell to the U.S. when prices are higher, B.C. often has a positive trade revenue balance.
- B.C. has more than 18 000 km of electricity transmission lines and more than 55 000 km of distribution lines. Four interconnections link B.C.’s electricity system with systems in Alberta and the U.S.
Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Total Energy Consumption
- End-use demand in B.C. was 1 165 petajoules (PJ) in 2016. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 46% of total demand, followed by transportation at 29%, residential at 13%, and commercial at 12% (Figure 6). B.C.’s total energy demand was the fifth largest in Canada, but the sixth largest on a per capita basis.
- Refined petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel, were the largest fuel-type consumed in B.C., accounting for 447 PJ, or 38%. Natural gas, electricity and biofuels accounted for 346 PJ (30%), 226 PJ (19%) and 140 PJ (12%), respectively (Figure 7).
- B.C. is one of the largest biofuels consumer in Canada – primarily because of its large forestry sector that generates electricity from waste wood.
Refined Petroleum Products
- Most of the gasoline consumed in B.C. comes from Alberta, delivered primarily via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Gasoline is also produced in B.C.’s two refineries. Less than 10% the gasoline consumed in B.C. is imported via ship or barge from the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
- B.C. is the 4th largest Canadian market for RPPs, after Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. Total 2017 demand in B.C. for RPPs was 214 Mb/d, or 12% of total Canadian RPP demand. Of B.C.’s total demand, 96 Mb/d was for motor gasoline and an estimated 79 Mb/d was for diesel.
- B.C.’s per capita RPP consumption in 2017 was 2 578 litres (16.2 barrels), or 11% below the national average of 2 886 litres per capita.
Natural Gas Consumption
- B.C. consumed an average of 0.75 Bcf/d of natural gas in 2017, which represented 8% of total Canadian demand.
- The largest consuming sector for natural gas was the industrial sector, which consumed 0.42 Bcf/d in 2017. The residential and commercial sectors consumed 0.20 Bcf/d and 0.13 Bcf/d, respectively.
- In 2016, annual electricity consumption per capita in B.C. was 13.5 megawatt hours (MW.h). B.C. ranked 8th in Canada for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 9% less than the national average.
- B.C.’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2016 was industrial at 27.5 TW.h. The residential and commercial sectors consumed 18.6 TW.h and 16.5 TW.h, respectively. B.C.’s electricity demand has increased 4% since 2005.
- B.C.’s GHG emissions in 2016 were 60.1 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).Footnote 1 Emissions have increased 18% since 1990.
- B.C.’s emissions per capita are one of the lowest in Canada, at 12.3 tonnes of CO2e – 37% below the national average of 19.4 tonnes per capita.
- The largest emitting sectors in B.C. are transportation at 37% of emissions, oil and gas at 22%, and buildings (residential and commercial) at 13% (Figure 8).
- B.C.’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2016 were 13.3 MT CO2e. Of this total, 12.4 MT were attributable to production, processing, and transmission and 0.8 MT were attributable to petroleum refining and natural gas distribution.
- About 96% of the electricity produced in B.C. comes from renewable sources. In 2016, B.C.’s power sector generated 0.2 MT CO2e emissions, which represents 0.2% of Canada’s total GHG emissions from power generation.
- B.C Oil & Gas Commission
- Government of B.C. – Natural Gas and Oil
- British Columbia Utilities Commission
- Ministry of Energy and Mines
- British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association
- NEB – Feature Article: Evolving technology is a key driver of performance in modern gas wells: a look at the Montney Formation, one of North America’s biggest gas resources
- NEB – Market Snapshot: Canadian wood pellet exports grew 46% between 2015 and 2016
- NEB – Market Snapshot: LNG projects have an energy efficiency advantage compared to other LNG producers in warmer locations
- NEB – Feature Article: British Columbia uses its hydro system to maximize gains from electricity trade
- NEB – Market Snapshot: Electricity exports from B.C. to California are increasing
- NEB – Market Snapshot: Montney gas wells increasingly productive due to technological improvements
- NEB – Market Snapshot: Household energy expenditures are highest in the Atlantic region, lowest in British Columbia
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