In recent years the Canadian petroleum product market has become increasingly vulnerable to supply disruptions. Canadian refineries are operating consistently at or near capacity. Demand for petroleum products is growing, despite escalating consumer prices. More stringent environmental regulations with respect to fuel quality and facility emissions are diverting investment dollars away from capacity expansions. Aging refineries are being pushed to maximize output and, as a result, there has been an increase in the number of incidents that required unplanned shutdowns.
Tighter markets lead to more uncertainty about the supply of oil and petroleum products and add further upward pressure on already record-high consumer prices. Consumers turn to governments for assurances that there will be an adequate supply of fuels, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil, at reasonable prices. However, they also want strong leadership on the environmental front and expect cleaner fuels and fewer emissions.
In developing a strategy for managing these complex issues, the industry and governments are faced with challenges that often have mutually exclusive solutions. Addressing security of supply concerns in the context of the environmental agenda will require careful consideration of a number of issues.
The events of the last few years have created a market that is significantly different from any in the past. Solutions such as the creation of a strategic petroleum reserve and increasing refining output are being proposed in a number of public forums.
CREEnergy has been actively working on developing strategies for small refineries that will respond to the need for a better supply of refinery products for consumers. Working in partnership with First Nation bands, these facilities will provide value-added economic growth for the First Nation people of Canada.