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Home > History of Development > Leduc: Causes and Effects > Setting the Stage: Before 1947 > Wartime

Leduc: Causes and Effects

Wartime

Royal Canadian Air Force members and airplane in England during World War II, 1943 Oil played a dominant role in the Second World War. Many Allied air victories were assisted by the availability of higher octane gasoline from British and U.S. refineries. Armies in North Africa, Europe and the Soviet Union were crippled when their oil supplies were interrupted. Lack of oil helped the effectiveness of the Japanese navy in the Pacific and destroyed Japan's domestic economy in the final year of the war.

Wartime oil shortages hit Canada, too. Gasoline rationing affected everyone. German U-boats sank dozens of tankers carrying oil to Eastern Canada from the Gulf of Mexico and South America.

The wartime experience showed Canadians the danger of relying so heavily on imports. To shorten the East Coast tanker voyage, a pipeline was built in 1943 from Portland, Maine, to refineries in Montreal, Quebec. A year later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the Canol Pipeline, an expensive, but short-lived, pipeline system carrying crude oil from Norman Wells to a new refinery at Whitehorse, Yukon, and refined oil products to Fairbanks and Skagway, Alaska.

As the war ended, Imperial Oil seriously considered using a German technology to convert western Canadian natural gas into gasoline.

Petroleum Communication Foundation. Our Petroleum Challenge: Exploring Canada's Oil and Gas Industry, Sixth Edition. Calgary: Petroleum Communication Foundation, 1999. With permission from the Centre for Energy.

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