Cambridge, Massachusetts – The Canadian oil sands are poised to become the number-one source of U.S. crude oil imports in 2010, according to a new report by U.S. energy advisor IHS CERA. Oil sands and refined product imports could ultimately increase to 20 to 36 per cent of U.S. oil by 2030, up from eight per cent in 2009.

“The fact that oil sands by themselves, were they a country, are set to become the largest single source of U.S. crude oil imports this year, emphasizes the importance they have attained as a supply source for the United States,” said Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS CERA. “This ranking demonstrates the impact of investment and innovation over the last decade. It also shows how integrated Canada and the United States are in terms of energy, as in their overall economies.”

Canada is already the number-one foreign supplier of oil to the U.S. Over the past decade, production from oil sands more than doubled from 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2000, to more than 1.35 million bpd in 2009. The report said that the potential is much larger and oil sands growth could range from 3.1 to 5.7 million bpd by 2030.

The report notes that while oil demand in the U.S. is not likely to return to its 2005 peak, the country will maintain its position as the world’s largest oil market over the next two decades.

“The oil sands will play a key role in meeting future world oil demand,” said Jim Burkhard, IHS CERA managing director. “Oil will continue to play a critical role in U.S. energy supply and the oil sands offer the possibility of increasing oil supply security while offsetting reduced supply from some of the United States’ traditional suppliers.”

Oil sands face the challenge of high development costs, but when compared to some of the largest sources of new supply, many are in the same range as oil sands.

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