Canada's Oil By Volume

Barrels of Oil

This infographic illustrates the volumes of oil we produce, ship, spill, and consume in Canada. Each square in this section represents a single barrel of oil. As you scroll down, we'll switch to larger , larger , and larger orders of magnitude. This visualization heavily cribs from The Visual Capitalist's All the World's Money.

1 Barrel / 159 Litres of Oil

Annual Oil Use Per Capita

South Korea
OECD Average

Canada is the third highest per-capita consumer of oil in the world - we use about 9 barrels of oil per person every year. That's more than double the OECD average of 4 barrels per capita per year. Canada is a big, cold country so we do have to drive further and heat our homes more. But we also love our energy.


Halifax → Vancouver by Car
Halifax → Vancouver by Plane

The distance from Halifax to Vancouver is approximately 5800km by road. If you drive a car with a fuel efficiency of 10L / 100km you'll use about 3 barrels worth of gas. Note that a barrel of oil after refining yeilds about 46% gasoline.

If you take a plane it's a little more direct (4400km). A 747 would use approximately 471 barrels worth of jet fuel. Each barrel of oil yields about 4% jet fuel.

Halifax → Quebec City by Cruise Ship

Cruise ships use a lot of fuel. Sailing from Halifax to Quebec City (1500km, only one third the distance to Vancouver) uses an incredible 2,216 barrels worth of fuel. (But cruise ships do move many many people at once)

of Barrels

Halifax → Quebec City by Cruise Ship =


Oil used for Manufacturing

Bottled water Canadians drink in a year
Repaving 1% of Toronto's Roads

Canadians drink a staggering 2.4 billion litres of bottled water a year. 15,000 barrels of oil are needed to produce all that plastic.

Toronto has 14,800 lane-kms of road. If 1% of Toronto's roads are repaved every year, 95,000 barrels of oil would need to be used to make the asphalt required.

12,000,000 Tires

Canadians discard 12 million tires every year. To manufacture 12 million new tires 2,040,000 barrels of oil are needed.

Oil Spills

Trans Mountain Pipeline
Lac Magentic (2013)
Exxon Valdez (1989)

The Trans Mountain pipeline was constructed in 1951. Since 2005 about 5,500 barrels of oil have leaked from the old pipe.

The Lac Magentic rail disaster in 2013 was one of the deadliest rail accidents in Canadian history. From the 74 rail cars, 35,000 barrels of oil were spilled or burned.

The Exxon Valdez is one of the most famous oil spills in history. It released 260,000 barrels of oil into the ocean near Alaska in 1989.

Odyssey (1988)
Canada's worst oil spill, and still one of the largest spills the world has ever experienced, occurred in 1988 off the coast of Nova Scotia. Over 1 million barrels of oil were released into the Atlantic ocean from the tanker Odyssey. Much of it combusted rapidly due to the exploding ship, while the rest was carried out into the ocean toward England by the currents. No clean-up operation was mounted.
Deepwater Horizon (2010)
The off-shore oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon famously exploded in April of 2010. The untapped well leaked oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 3 months, spilling 4.3 million barrels of oil.

of Barrels

Deepwater Horizon Spill =


Oil Production

Oil volume transported per year by...
Trans Mountain Pipeline
Keystone Pipeline

Once extracted, oil must be brought to refineries for processing. Some of the biggest transport methods used in Canada are rail and pipeline. Rail is used to move oil all over the country. The Trans Mountain pipeline moves Alberta oil to the BC coast to load into tankers. The Keystone pipeline moves oil to the US. 99% of Canadian oil exports are to the US.

Existing capacity

Proposed expansions - Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion and Keystone XL

Extracted in Canada / year

In 2016 approximately 1.6 billion barrels of oil were produced from Canadian sources. More than half of that (876 million barrels) came from the oil sands.

Produced by oil sands

Produced from traditional sources

of Barrels

Extracted in Canada / year =


Oil Reserves

World Demand in 2018

In 2018 the demand for oil world-wide is approximately 36 billion barrels per year

Canadian Reserves

Canada has one of the largest proven oil reserves in the world with 171 billion barrels of oil yet to be extracted. Nearly all of it is in the oil sands.

Reserves in the oil sands

Reserves in traditional sources

World Reserves

Worldwide there are approximately 1.6 trillion barrels of proven reserves. 82% of those are in OPEC countries. This leaves Canada with more than half of the non-OPEC reserves.

Reserves in OPEC counties

Reserves in the rest of the world