Petroleum products facts

What are petroleum products?

Refined petroleum products (RPP) are derived from crude oils through processes such as catalytic cracking and fractional distillation.

  • Catalytic cracking is the process of breaking down larger, heavier, and more complex hydrocarbon molecules into simpler and lighter molecules using a catalytic agent.
  • Fractional distillation is the process by which components in crude oil are separated into different parts or fractions according to their different boiling points.

Key facts

  • Canadian refineries can process up to 1.9 million barrels of petroleum per day
  • Canadians consumed 105 billion litres of refined petroleum products in 2016
  • Transportation fuels (gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels) accounted for 79% of petroleum products sold in Canada in 2016
  • Canadian refineries produce 1.9 million barrels per day (109 billion litres) of refined petroleum products, of which 23% was exported in 2016. Due to regional refinery configuration and trading patterns, 13% of Canadian consumption of refined petroleum products is imported to meet Canadian demand

Learn more about petroleum products in Canada

Petroleum refineries

Petroleum refineries transform crude oil into a wide range of refined petroleum products (e.g. gasoline, diesel). Other facilities such as asphalt plants, lubricant plants, upgraders and some petrochemical plants also process crude oil to produce a limited range of products.

Refinery activities

  • Crude oil distillation: separating products from crude oil by heating
  • Additional processing (e.g. catalytic cracking, reforming, coking)
  • Product blending: end-use RPPs are usually blended with additives or renewable fuels

Refinery outputs

  • Transportation fuels – gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, heavy fuel oil
  • Heating oil
  • Liquid petroleum gases (propane and butane from refineries)
  • Petrochemical feedstocks
  • Other products (e.g. kerosene, lubricating oils, greases, waxes, asphalt)
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Crude oil refinery outputs include gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil, fuel oil, lubricating oil, paraffin wax, and asphalt.

Supply and demand

In 2016, 1.7 million barrels per day of oil (96 billion liters) was shipped to domestic refineries. Canadian production of petroleum products reached 1.9 Million barrels per day (109 billion liters). Canada exported 0.4 million barrels per day (25 billion liters) and imported 0.2 million barrels per day (14 billion litres).

Domestic sales of petroleum products was 1.8 million barrels per day (105 billion liters).

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Gasoline is the refined product with the highest sales volumes at 45%, followed by diesel at 27%, aviation fuels at 7%, heating oil and heavy fuel oil both at 2%.

* Certain product shares are based on NRCan estimates.
** “Other” includes LPGs, petrochemical feedstocks, lubricating oils, petroleum coke, asphalt, etc.


Exports: 23% of Canadian production of refined petroleum products is exported

  • 92% of Canadian refined petroleum product exports are to the U.S.
  • 20% of U.S. imports come from Canada

Imports: 13% of Canadian consumption of refined petroleum products is imported

  • 71% of Canadian imports come from the U.S.
  • Other Canadian imports come from a wide range of countries including
    • Netherlands (10%)
    • U.K. (2%)
    • India (2%)
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Exports of refined petroleum products peaked at 29.3 billion litres in 2013 and have been on a downward trend, reaching 25.1 billion litres in 2016. Imports have been more volatile, peaking in 2008 at 18.3 billion litres. Imports have been on a slight upward trend since a low in 2012, reaching 14.1 billion litres in 2016.

Retail prices

The average Canadian retail price in 2016 was 102.8 cents per litre for gasoline and 97.7 cents per liter for diesel. Changes in retail prices for fuel tend to mimic those for crude oil.

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The average cost of gasoline in 2016 was 1.028 dollars and the average cost of diesel was 97.7 cents. 64.8% of the cost of gasoline, and 66.7% of the cost of diesel, is due to crude, refining, and marketing costs. Federal and Provincial taxes account for the rest of the cost.

Changes in retail prices for fuel tend to mimic those for crude oil.

Weekly retail gasoline and diesel prices

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Gasoline and Diesel prices largely track each other and were volatile between 2008 to 2017 with gasoline prices ranging from 1.41 dollars to less than 72 cents. The average gasoline and diesel price between 2008 and 2017 was 1.15 dollars.

Refinery capacity

Refinery capacity by province and type

In 2016, refineries across Canada produced almost 1.9 million barrels of refined petroleum products per day.

Province Petroleum refinery Asphalt plants Petrochemical plants
(using crude oil as feedstock)
  Count Capacity* Count Capacity Count Capacity Count Capacity
Alberta 3 429 - - - - 5 1,285
British Columbia 2 69 - - - - - -
New Brunswick 1 318 - - - - - -
Newfoundland and Labrador 1 115 - - - - - -
Ontario 4 393 - - 1 17 - -
Quebec 2 402 - - - - - -
Saskatchewan 1 130 2 48 - - 1 78
Total 14 1,856 2 48 1 17 6 1,363

*Capacities are in Mb/d.
**Capacities reported are for inputs or heavy crude oil or bitumen.