The Ontario Petroleum Institute (OPI), an industry association founded in 1963, represents companies and individuals involved in oil and natural gas production, natural gas and hydrocarbon storage, and salt/solution mining. The OPI’s primary objective is to encourage the responsible exploration and development of oil and natural gas.
Ontario producers have been safely harvesting energy for 156 years. The first heartbeat of oil and natural gas production in North America started in Ontario with oil in 1858 followed by natural gas in the early 1900’s.
Oil continues to flow from these wells, in fact, more than 50,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in this time span on land as well as offshore. Exploration has resulted in the discovery of many producing oil and natural gas fields and storage pools that have contributed to the energy needs of a significant number of Canadian consumers.
Ontario’s importance in launching the petroleum industry and commercial oil production cannot be understated. The list of firsts includes first commercial oil well in North America (world), first petroleum company, first oil exchange. It was from this early discovery that drilling and refining techniques were developed.
Oil from the first commercial fields in the communities of Oil Springs and Petrolia in southwestern Ontario still flow today from those historical wells that spawned oil production in North America. In 2013 there were 18 companies operating 717 wells from “historical oil fields” producing oil in Ontario.
Innovations in refining laid the foundation for the distribution and marketing of oil that became North America’s largest industry in the 20th century with the advent of the automobile and its requirements for gasoline. A group of local refining operations in Petrolia, Ontario soon banded together to form one of Canada’s most visible corporate entities – Imperial Oil. Ontario commercial oil producers and Imperial Oil have a long established business relationship which has continued to this day.
While oil is often most identified with transportation petroleum products are used in a variety of everyday products: cosmetics, synthetic fabrics and rubber, plastics and medicines.
Natural gas production has evolved with Southwestern Ontario being the centre of natural gas distribution with one of North America’s largest underground natural gas storage hubs is located in Dawn Township to supply consumer needs for Central Canada and the Northeastern United States
The experience and expertise obtained from these early beginnings in southwestern Ontario would provide the foundation for exploration and production activity worldwide.