Market Snapshot: Crude Oil – One of Canada’s top exports is also one of the most globally traded commodities

Release date: 2019-06-12

Crude oil is one of Canada’s top five highest valued exports.Footnote 1,Footnote 2 Between 2013 and 2018, the value of crude oil exports ranged from 11% to 20% of Canada’s total exported goods. Despite western Canada experiencing lower oil prices in 2018, the value of exported crude oil was $86.7 billion, or 16% of Canada’s $538.1 billion in exported goods.Footnote 3

Figure 1: Comparing the dollar value of Canadian and global crude oil exports

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, ITC calculations based on UN COMTRADE and ITC statistics

Description: From 2013 to 2017, the lines graph percentages, by dollar value, of global crude exports compared to all global goods exported and the percentages of Canadian crude exports relative to all Canadian goods exported. Global crude exports compared to total global exports decreased from 8.3% in 2013 to 4.8% in 2017. Canadian crude exports out of total Canadian goods exports has also fallen from 18.4% in 2013 to 16.1% in 2018.

Canada exported an average of $73.1 billion worth of crude oil between 2013 and 2017, ranking 3rd or 4th place in those years on the list of largest crude exporters in the world.Footnote 4

During the same period, Canada’s share of global crude oil export volumes increased. In 2013, 5% of the world’s crude oil export volumes were Canadian; this grew to over 6% in 2017. During these years, Canada exported an average of 3 million barrels per day (MMb/d).

Although most of Canada’s crude oil exports go to the United States (U.S.), the U.S.’s crude oil exports to global markets steadily increased from $11.3 billion in 2013 to $29.3 billion in 2017. Over the same period, the U.S. moved from the 31st position on the list of crude oil exports by value to the 13th position. In 2017, the U.S. exported 0.9 MMb/d of crude oil according the US Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. is expected to be ranked even higher on the global list of crude exporters in 2018 when full data is available. In 2018, the U.S.’s 2018 crude export volumes nearly doubled, averaging 2 MMb/d.

Global crude oil trade

Crude oil is one of the most traded products in the world. It is also one of the world's most valuable and essential commodities. Crude oil was the most traded product in four of the five previous years, surpassed only by exports of motor vehicles in 2016.

In 2017, global exports were valued at $22.8 trillion. Crude oil was $1.1 trillion of that, or nearly 5%.

Crude oil touches most sectors of the global economy. It is the world’s major feedstock for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petrochemicals. There are also a multitude of products derived from crude oil including textiles, paints, and even cosmetics.

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