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Canada's oil imports from Saudi Arabia on the rise

Despite diplomatic concerns, total volume of Canadian imports from kingdom has increased by 66 per cent over past 5 years.

A recent analysis by CBC News used Statistics Canada trade data to examine Canadian oil imports from Saudi Arabia. The analysis discovered that despite simmering diplomatic tensions and concerns over the human rights record of the Middle Eastern kingdom, Canada is importing oil from Saudi Arabia at an ever-increasing rate. The total volume of Canadian imports from Saudi Arabia has risen 66 per cent since 2014, with imports rising every year during that period.

Official of Saudi oil company Aramco watches progress at a rig at the al-Howta oil field near Howta, Saudi Arabia. Photo: AP Photo/John Moore, File.

The analysis found that last year, Canadian companies spent $3.54 billion importing 6.4 million cubic metres of Saudi oil. That's up from $2.5 billion in 2017—before the diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia erupted last summer. Saudi Arabia is the second-largest source of foreign oil for Canada, after the United States.

Foreign oil imports are a bit of a paradox for Canada, given that Canada possesses the third-largest oil reserves in the world and is a major net exporter of oil, with oil revenues providing an important source of economic benefit for the nation. Canadian energy industry officials point out that new pipelines are needed to increase access to new markets for Western Canadian crude, including markets in Eastern Canada.