Canada’s Trans Mountain pipe enlargement to disrupt oil stream to US, enhance costs

Sep 19, 2023 | blog

By Nia Williams and Stephanie Kelly

CALGARY (Reuters) – Canada’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline enlargement (TMX), which is able to practically triple the stream of crude from Alberta to Canada’s Pacific Coast starting early subsequent 12 months, will shake up North America’s provide by diverting barrels now primarily delivered to refiners and exporters within the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast.

Its startup may add as a lot as $2 per barrel to costs paid by U.S. Midwest oil refineries that sit alongside Canada’s present important oil-export route. Plants that benefited from discounted oil embrace these operated by BP, Citgo Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries’ Flint Hills Resources, analysts mentioned.

“They will be competing for barrels that no longer transit through their region,” mentioned a Calgary-based oil dealer. “The market will have to reshuffle.”

The long-delayed and controversial Canadian government-owned C$30.9 billion ($22.81 billion) TMX challenge is ready to start delivery crude early subsequent 12 months, though it may resist 9 months delay resulting from a last-minute proposed route change.

Once it begins working, Canada will be capable of ship an additional 590,000 barrels per day (bpd) to Pacific ports for supply to U.S. West Coast and Asia refiners, the place demand for heavy bitter crude is anticipated to climb within the longer-term.


Canada has provided the Midwest with all of its crude imports since 2019, in keeping with a Reuters evaluation of Energy Information Administration information. That has left Canadian oil producers weak to deep worth reductions or “blowouts” at any time when pipelines develop into congested or rupture.

Pipeline operator Enbridge, which ships the majority of Canada’s 3.8 million bpd of crude exports to the U.S., expects to see flows on its Mainline system drop by as much as 300,000 bpd as soon as TMX opens.

Last December, a spill on TC Energy’s 622,000 bpd Keystone pipeline drove the Canadian heavy crude low cost to U.S. oil to greater than $33 a barrel, greater than double its typical low cost.

Having extra Canadian export pipeline capability means crude bottlenecks build up within the Alberta storage hub Hardisty ought to occur much less usually, decreasing volatility and maintaining costs steadier.

“For a decade the U.S. Midwest could count on that kind of blowout every year or two,” mentioned Rory Johnston, founding father of the Commodity Context publication. “That’s less likely now.”

The start-up of TMX may add a “buck or two” to the price of a barrel for Midwest refiners, he estimates.


TMX additionally will make Canadian crude “re-exports” from the Gulf Coast much less viable, squashing a development that has gained in momentum lately, and growing shipments of Canadian oil to China, mentioned Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler.

So far this 12 months, over 200,000 bpd of Canadian crude has been re-exported from the U.S. Gulf Coast, up from about 73,000 bpd in 2019, Kpler information confirmed. China is at the moment the main vacation spot for these Canadian re-exports, taking in 194,000 bpd in August.

Heavy Canadian crude will nonetheless make it to the U.S. Gulf for use by refiners there, Smith added, and the area may additionally see an uptick in Latin American crude being displaced from the U.S. West Coast by TMX barrels.

($1 = 1.3549 Canadian {dollars})

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Nia Williams; further reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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