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
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.
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.