In 2012 if you were preparing a list of five topics for a
roundtable discussion on Canada’s place in the global economy
every list would include natural resources. And the resource most
likely to top that list would be energy, specifically oil and gas. Of
course what would immediately come to one’s mind next is where
that energy resource is located – and your answer would likely be
western Canada, specifically Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The answer, however, is only partially correct. There is another
key source of oil and gas in Canada - one that is probably not as
familiar to most Canadians. Let’s cover a little background and,
as we do, chances are you might just recognize the geography.
While western Canada, Alberta in particular, is heavily into
oil and gas production, the first heartbeat of this industry in
North America started in a place called Oil Springs in 1858. The
discovery of the first North American commercial oil resource
resulted in the building of the first refinery, the Williams’ refinery.
The area soon had 16 refiners who banded together to establish
the Imperial Oil Company.
Oil continues to flow from wells in the area of that original
discovery some 150 years later. In fact more than 50,000 oil and
gas wells have been drilled in this time on land as well as offshore.
Exploration by small and large companies has resulted in the
many producing oil and gas fields, and numerous storage pools
that have contributed to the energy needs of a significant number
of Canadian consumers.
By now if this history hasn’t prompted a guess on the location,
let’s clear that up - its southwestern Ontario. Yes, oil and gas has
been produced in central Canada for over a century, in fact its
where it all started.
The industry in Ontario has ebbed and flowed in size and
volume of production based on the prevailing currents of the
market. While total production of oil, natural gas and various
by-products is comparatively small relative to western Canada,
the industry from an investment standpoint is profitable with
considerable upside potential.
Presently, about 140 private and public companies of
By Hugh Moran, Executive Director, Ontario Petroleum Institute
The Heart of Oil and Gas?