Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – British Columbia

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Table of Contents

  • Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2021

    Description:
    This graph shows hydrocarbon production in B.C. from 2010 to 2020. Over this period, increased from 33.7 Mb/d to 110.8 Mb/d. Natural gas production increased from 2.9 Bcf/d to 5.4 Bcf/d.

  • Figure 2: Electricity Production (2019)

    Figure 2: Electricity Production (2019)

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2021

    Description:
    This pie chart shows electricity generation by source in B.C. A total of 64.3 TW.h of electricity was generated in 2019.

  • Figure 3: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map

    Figure 3: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER

    Description:
    This map shows all major crude oil pipelines, rail lines, and refineries in B.C.

    Download:
    PDF version [1 297 KB]

  • Figure 4: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map

    Figure 4: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER

    Description:
    This map shows all major natural gas pipelines in B.C.

    Download:
    PDF version [1 073 KB]

  • Figure 5: End-Use Demand by Sector

    Figure 5: End-Use Demand by Sector

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2021

    Description:
    This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in B.C. by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 1 343 PJ in 2018. The largest sector was industrial at 47% of total demand, followed by transportation (at 31%), residential (at 12%), and lastly, commercial (at 10%).

  • Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2019)

    Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2019)

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2021

    Description:
    This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in B.C. in 2018. Refined petroleum products accounted for 523 PJ (39%) of demand, followed by natural gas at 384 PJ (29%), electricity at 216 PJ (16%), biofuels at 214 PJ (16%), and other at 6 PJ (less than 1%).
    Note: "Other" includes coal, coke, and coke oven gas.

  • Figure 7: GHG Emissions by Sector

    Figure 7: GHG Emissions by Sector

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    Environment and Climate Change Canada – National Inventory Report

    Description:
    This stacked column graph shows GHG emissions in B.C. by sector every five years from 1990 to 2020 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have increased in B.C. from 51.7 MT of CO2e in 1990 to 61.8 MT of CO2e in 2020.

  • Figure 8: Emissions Intensity of Electricity Generation

    Figure 8: Emissions Intensity of Electricity Generation

    Source and Description:

    Source:
    Environment and Climate Change Canada – National Inventory Report

    Description:
    This column graph shows the emissions intensity of electricity generation in B.C. from 1990 to 2020. In 1990, electricity generated in B.C. emitted 17 g of CO2e per kWh. By 2020, emissions intensity decreased to 7.3 g of CO2e per kWh.

Energy Production

Crude Oil

  • In 2020, British Columbia (B.C.) produced 110.8 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of crude oil (including condensate and pentanes plus) (Figure 1). B.C.’s crude oil production represented 2% of total Canadian production as of 2020.
  • All production is conventional light oil, condensate, and pentanes plus and is generally from the northeast portion of the province.
  • At the end of 2020, B.C.’s remaining resource of crude oil is estimated to be 528 million barrels.

Refined Petroleum Products (RPPs)

  • B.C. has two refineries with a combined capacity of 67 Mb/d: the Prince George (Tidewater) Refinery and the Burnaby (Parkland) Refinery.
  • The Prince George Refinery has a capacity of 12 Mb/d and mostly consumes light and synthetic crude oil from western Canada. The refinery was previously owned by Husky Energy but was acquired by Tidewater Midstream in November 2019.
  • The Burnaby Refinery has a capacity of 55 Mb/d and mostly consumes heavier western Canadian crude transported via the Trans Mountain pipeline. Parkland Fuels acquired the refinery from Chevron in April 2017.

Natural Gas/Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)

  • In 2020, natural gas production in B.C. averaged 5.38 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) (Figure 1), accounting for 35% of total Canadian natural gas production.
  • Natural gas is produced in the northeastern part of B.C., predominantly from the Montney Formation. Development of tight gas in the Montney Formation is the primary factor behind B.C.’s gas production almost doubling from 2010, when production averaged 2.88 Bcf/d.
  • The Montney extends from northeast B.C. into Alberta. The B.C. portion is estimated to contain 400 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable, sales-quality gas in B.C. with 389 Tcf remaining at year-end 2020.
  • Other significant gas resources are located in the Horn River Basin and Liard Basin. B.C.’s potential resource for recoverable, sales-quality natural gas is estimated to be 705 Tcf, with 667 Tcf remaining at the end of 2020.
  • In 2020, B.C. produced about 387.8 Mb/d of NGLs from field plants, not including condensate and pentanes plus, which are included with crude oil.

Renewable Natural Gas

  • Renewable natural gas (RNG) is produced by five facilities and is transported on FortisBC’s system. Together, these facilities can provide up to 316 000 gigajoules of RNG per year, enough to heat 3 470 homes.

Electricity

  • In 2019, B.C. generated 64.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 10% of total Canadian generation. B.C. is the fourth largest producer of electricity in Canada and has an estimated generating capacity of 18 250 megawatts (MW).
  • BC Hydro generates most of B.C.’s electricity. Independent power producers operate several smaller hydroelectric plants as well as all the biomass, wind, and solar facilities.
  • About 87% of electricity in B.C. is produced from hydroelectric sources. B.C. is home to roughly 16 000 MW of hydroelectric capacity, most of which is located on the Columbia River in southeastern B.C. and the Peace River in the northeast. Site C, a new 1 100 MW hydroelectric facility, is currently under construction on the Peace River. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
  • Canada and the U.S. signed the Columbia River Treaty in 1961 to manage water flows and downstream flooding in the U.S. The agreement gives the province of B.C. access to an equal share of the benefits of the downstream power that can be generated in the U.S. The Columbia River Treaty is currently being renegotiated to modernize it.
  • Biomass, which relies mostly on waste from B.C.’s extensive forestry industry, accounts for about 5% of B.C.’s electricity generation capacity.
  • Wind accounts for about 4% of B.C.’s electricity generation capacity. With approximately 700 MW of installed wind capacity, B.C. ranks fourth in Canada.
  • Other sources of power include natural gas, refined petroleum products (used in off-grid communities), and solar.
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Energy Transportation and Trade

Crude Oil and Liquids

  • There are two major crude oil pipelines in B.C.: Trans Mountain and Pembina’s NEBC/Western Pipeline system (Figure 3).
  • The Trans Mountain Pipeline delivers crude oil and refined petroleum products from Edmonton, Alberta, to Kamloops, Burnaby, and the U.S. Trans Mountain has a current capacity of approximately 300 Mb/d, which varies depending on the proportion of heavy and light oil and RPPs that are being transported.
  • The Trans Mountain Expansion project will transport crude oil from Edmonton to the Westridge Marine Terminal and Parkland refinery in Burnaby, B.C. The expansion will twin the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300 Mb/d to 890 Mb/d. Construction of the new pipeline began in November 2019 and is expected to be complete in December 2022.
  • The Western Pipeline portion of the NEBC/Western Pipeline system has 75 Mb/d of capacity and ships crude oil from Taylor to the Prince George Refinery and to an interconnect with Trans Mountain in Kamloops. The NEBC portion of the system transports liquids, including condensate produced in the Montney region, to Taylor. From Taylor, liquids can also reach markets in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, via other pipelines.
  • B.C. has five oil and oil products storage terminals. The Kamloops Terminal is the smallest with two storage tanks. The terminal services Kamloops and the region with refined products. The Sumas Terminal has a capacity of 715 000 barrels of oil, with another 175 000 barrels under construction. The Burnaby Terminal has a storage capacity of 1.7 million barrels with another 3.9 million barrels under construction, and the Westridge Marine Terminal, also in Burnaby, has a capacity of 395 000 barrels. All four are located along the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
  • There are two crude-by-rail offloading facilities in B.C., both located in Burnaby.

Natural Gas

  • Several pipelines transport natural gas produced in B.C. in the province, including Enbridge's Westcoast Pipeline (also referred to as the Enbridge BC Pipeline) and pipelines operated by FortisBC and Pacific Northern Gas (PNG). FortisBC and PNG are regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).
  • Some of the gas produced in B.C. is also transported to other provinces on the NOVA Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) System. (Figure 4).
  • Natural gas is exported from B.C. to the U.S. Pacific Northwest at Huntingdon, where the Westcoast Pipeline connects with Williams’ Northwest Pipeline, or at Kingsgate, where TC Energy’s Foothills Pipeline connects with its Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) system. Gas produced in B.C. may also be exported to the U.S. Midwest through Alberta and beyond via the Alliance Pipeline or the NGTL System.
  • In October 2019, TC Energy announced its West Path Delivery Program, an expansion of the NGTL and Foothills systems to increase export capacity to GTN by late 2022 or 2023. There are four separate projects, all located within Alberta and B.C. In B.C., this program includes the Foothills Zone 8 West Path Delivery 2022 Project.
  • TC Energy is currently building the Coastal GasLink (CGL) Pipeline to supply gas to LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat. On 26 July 2019, the NEB (now CER) issued a decision confirming B.C. jurisdiction of the pipeline project. The CGL Pipeline will have an initial capacity of 2.1 Bcf/d, with potential expansion to 5.0 Bcf/d without laying new pipe. The pipeline has an expected 2023 in-service date.
  • AltaGas’ Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal (RIPET) is Canada’s first propane marine export terminal. The terminal has the capacity to export approximately 80 Mb/d of propane to Asian and other international markets. RIPET receives its supply from western Canada via CN’s railway network. RIPET has storage capacity of up to 600 000 barrels.
  • Pembina's Prince Rupert Terminal started up in April 2021, exporting propane to international markets. The terminal has an initial export capacity of 25 Mb/d. Plans for an expansion of the terminal to 40 Mb/d have been deferred. A final investment decision is expected in 2022. The expansion would be subject to necessary regulatory and environmental approvals. Supply for the terminal is primarily sourced from Pembina's fractionation complex in Redwater, Alberta.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

  • Many large-scale LNG export facilities have been proposed for the B.C. coast. Since 2010, the CER (formerly NEB) has received 36 natural gas export license applications for B.C. projects. All LNG export facilities will be regulated primarily by the province of B.C., including the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC).
  • To date, LNG Canada is the only LNG export project to begin construction activities. The project is a joint venture between Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi Corporation, and KOGAS. Initial production capacity is planned to be 14 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) from the first two processing units–often called trains–with the potential to expand to four trains in the future.
  • Woodfibre LNG Limited has proposed a small-scale LNG processing and export facility near Squamish. The project has received the necessary BCOGC facilities permit to build and operate the facility. The facility would have a production capacity of approximately 2.1 Mtpa of LNG.
  • FortisBC operates two smaller scale LNG facilities: Tilbury, on Tilbury Island near Vancouver, and Mt. Hayes, near Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.
  • Tilbury has been in operation since 1971. It serves local markets during peak winter demand, provides LNG for fleet vehicles, and has, in recent years, started producing LNG for electricity generation in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The Tilbury facility has been shipping small volumes of LNG to China since late 2017.
  • Tilbury has expanded in recent years. In 2018, the Phase 1 expansion consisted of a 46 000 cubic meter storage tank and liquefaction capacity of 0.25 Mtpa. The second half of the expansion, expected to be complete in 2025, will add an additional 0.65 Mtpa of liquefaction capacity. The Phase 2 expansion project has been filed with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. It would include a new storage tank that can hold up to 142 400 cubic metres of LNG, which would more than double Tilbury’s current storage capacity, and a new liquefaction unit with capacity of up to 2.5 Mtpa to produce LNG for marine fueling or overseas export.
  • The Mt. Hayes LNG facility was built in 2011 and provides gas to customers on Vancouver Island during high demand periods or gas system outages. The Mt. Hayes facility has a storage capacity of 1.5 Bcf.
  • Cryopeak’s Tamaska LNG facility began operations in 2021 in Fort Nelson. The production capacity of the facility in the current phase is 27 000 gallons of LNG per day. The plant is scalable to approximately 100 000 gallons per day under its current permit.
  • Campus Energy’s Dawson Creek LNG facility also has a current capacity of 27 000 gallons of LNG per day.

Electricity

  • In 2019, B.C.’s net interprovincial and international electricity inflows were 2.7 TWh. B.C. trades primarily with the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Alberta.
  • On an annual basis, B.C. is typically a net exporter of electricity. B.C. often has a positive trade revenue balance, even in years when it imports more electricity than it exports, because of its ability to buy electricity from the U.S. when prices are lower and sell to the U.S. when prices are higher.
  • B.C. has approximately 80 000 km of transmission and distribution lines. BC Hydro’s transmission lines connect B.C. with other utilities in western North America, including those in Alberta, Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • In April 2019, the federal government, B.C. government, and BC Hydro announced federal government funding for the Peace Region Electricity Supply Project. The BC Hydro project involves two parallel 230 kilovolt power lines between the future Site C substation near Fort St. John and the existing Groundbirch substation, located 30 km east of Chetwynd. The project was designed to improve reliability in the Peace region and was placed into service in May 2021.
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Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Total Energy Consumption

  • End-use demand in B.C. was 1 346 petajoules (PJ) in 2019. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 47% of total demand, followed by transportation at 30%, residential at 12%, and commercial at 10% (Figure 5). B.C.’s total energy demand was the fourth largest in Canada, but the sixth largest on a per capita basis.
  • Refined petroleum products (RPPs), including gasoline and diesel, were the main fuel types consumed in B.C., accounting for 512 PJ, or 38% of total end-use demand. Natural gas, electricity, and biofuels accounted for 389 PJ (29%), 216 PJ (16%), and 222 PJ (16%), respectively (Figure 6).
  • B.C. is the largest biofuels consumer in Canada–primarily because of its large forestry sector that generates electricity from waste wood.

Refined Petroleum Products

  • B.C.’s motor gasoline demand in 2019 was 1 066 litres per capita, 16% below the national average of 1 268 litres per capita.
  • B.C.’s diesel demand in 2019 was 899 litres per capita, 5% above the national average of 855 litres per capita.
  • Most of the gasoline consumed in B.C. comes from Alberta, delivered primarily via the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Gasoline is also produced in B.C.’s two refineries. Gasoline consumed in B.C. may also be imported via ship or barge from the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
  • In response to high prices for transportation fuel during summer 2019, the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) held a public inquiry into wholesale and retail gasoline and diesel prices in the province. Subsequently, the government introduced and passed the Fuel Price Transparency Act on 27 November 2019. The act requires companies in the gasoline and diesel industry to share information on RPPs, including imports, exports, fuel volumes at refineries and terminals, and wholesale and retail prices.

Natural Gas

  • B.C. consumed an average of 0.76 Bcf/d of natural gas in 2020, which represented 7% of total Canadian demand.
  • The largest consuming sector for natural gas was the industrial sector, which consumed 0.39 Bcf/d in 2020. The residential and commercial sectors consumed 0.22 Bcf/d and 0.15 Bcf/d, respectively.

Electricity

  • In 2019, annual electricity consumption per capita in B.C. was 11.8 megawatt-hours (MWh). B.C. ranked seventh in Canada for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 21% less than the national average.
  • B.C.’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2019 was industrial, at 25.7 terawatt-hours (TWh). The residential and commercial sectors consumed 19 TWh and 15.1 TWh, respectively.
  • B.C. has over 2 500 public charging stations for electric vehicles.

GHG Emissions

  • B.C.’s GHG emissions in 2020 were 61.7 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).Footnote 1 Emissions have increased 20% since 1990 and declined 3% since 2005.
  • B.C.’s emissions per capita are one of the lowest in Canada, at 12.0 tonnes of CO2e 32% below the national average of 17.7 tonnes per capita.
  • The largest emitting sectors in B.C. are transportation at 38% of emissions, upstream and downstream oil and gas at 21%, and manufacturing and heavy industries (including smelting, cement, and chemicals) at 16% (Figure 7).
  • B.C.’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2020 were 12.8 MT CO2e. Of this total, 12.2 MT were attributable to production, processing, and transmission and 0.6 MT were attributable to petroleum refining and natural gas distribution.
  • About 95% of the electricity produced in B.C. comes from renewable sources. In 2020, B.C.’s power sector generated 0.3 MT CO2e emissions, which represents 0.4% of Canada’s total GHG emissions from power generation.
  • The greenhouse gas intensity of B.C.’s electricity grid Footnote 2 measured as the GHGs emitted in the generation of the province’s electric power, was 7.6 grams of CO2e per kilowatt-hour (g of CO2e per kWh) electricity generated in 2020. This is a 70% reduction from the province’s 2005 level of 24 g of CO2e per kWh. The national average in 2020 was 110 g of CO2e per kWh (Figure 8).
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More Information

Data Sources

Provincial & Territorial Energy Profiles aligns with the CER’s latest Canada’s Energy Future 2021 datasets. Energy Futures uses a variety of data sources, generally starting with Statistics Canada data as the foundation, and making adjustments to ensure consistency across all provinces and territories.

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