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IndustryOil and gas industry
SuccessorSuncor Energy
FoundedOttawa, Ontario (1975)
HeadquartersCalgary, Alberta, Canada
Key people
Steven Williams, President & CEO
Production output
Oil, natural gas, petrochemicals
RevenueGreen Arrow Up.svgC$18.911 billion (2006)
Number of employees
4,514 (2008)[1]
ParentSuncor Energy

Petro-Canada is a retail and wholesale marketing brand of Suncor Energy. Until 1990, it was a crown corporation of Canada (a state-owned enterprise), headquartered at the Petro-Canada Centre in Calgary, Alberta. In August 2009, Petro-Canada merged with Suncor Energy, with Suncor shareholders receiving approximately 60 percent ownership of the combined company and Petro-Canada shareholders receiving approximately 40 percent. The company retained the Suncor Energy name for the merged corporation and its upstream operations. It continues to use the Petro-Canada brand nationwide, except in Newfoundland and Labrador, for downstream retail operations.


Petro-Canada Headquarters in Calgary

Background: Before 1975[edit]

In 1973, world oil prices quadrupled due to the Arab oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War. The province of Alberta had substantial oil reserves, whose extraction had long been controlled by American corporations. The government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the opposition New Democratic Party felt that these corporations geared most of their production to the American market, and as a result little of the benefit of rising oil prices went to Canadians.[citation needed]

Trudeau's Liberals were then in a minority government and dependent upon the support of the NDP to stay in power. The idea also fit with the growing movement toward economic nationalism within the Liberals. The Liberals and NDP passed the bill over the opposition of the Progressive Conservative Party led by Robert Stanfield.

Founding as a Crown Corporation: 1975–2009[edit]

Petro-Canada was founded as a Crown Corporation in 1975 by an act of Parliament. It started its operations on 1 January 1976. The company was given C$1.5 billion in start-up money and easy access to new sources of capital. It was set up in Calgary, despite the hostility of existing oil firms.[citation needed] Its first president was Maurice Strong. The Progressive Conservatives (PCs), then led by Albertan Joe Clark, were opponents of the company, and advocated breaking it up and selling it. However, they were unable to proceed with these plans during their brief time in power.

Petro-Canada Fuel Pump

With the establishment of Petro-Canada, the federal government transferred its 45% stake in Panarctic Oils Ltd. and its 12% stake in Syncrude to the newly established company. In 1976, Petro-Canada purchased Atlantic Richfield Canada, in 1978 Pacific Petroleums, and in 1981 Petrofina. Most of the original Petro-Canada refineries and service stations were acquired from BP Canada in 1983.

The company became popular outside of Alberta as a symbol of Canadian nationalism[citation needed]. It quickly grew to become one of the largest players in the traditional oil fields of the west as well as in the oil sands and the East coast offshore oil fields.

When the Liberals returned to power in 1980, energy policy was an important focus, and the sweeping National Energy Program was created. This expanded Petro-Canada, but was seen detrimental to Alberta's economy. The PC government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (1984–1993) stopped using Petro-Canada as a policy tool, and it began to compete fully and successfully with the private sector companies while abandoning its founding principles of economic nationalism.

In 1990, the government announced its intention to privatize Petro-Canada, and the first shares were sold on the open market in July 1991 at $13 each.[citation needed] The government began to slowly sell its majority control, but kept a 19% stake in the company. No other shareholder was allowed to own more than 10%, however. Also, foreigners cannot control more than 25% of the company.

During the first year, the value of the shares gradually dropped to $8 as Petro-Canada suffered a loss of $603 million, primarily because of the devaluation of some assets.[citation needed] The newly private company significantly reduced the number of properties in which it had a direct interest. It reduced its annual operating costs by $300 million and it went from a staff of close to 11,000 to only about 5,000 employees. Many of these laid-off employees went on to work and start up other oil companies in Alberta, creating a new group of Canadian producers. But many did not work in other oil companies and some left Alberta to find work elsewhere.[citation needed]

In his 2004 federal budget, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale pledged to sell the government's remaining stake in the company and by the end of the year it had sold its 19% stake, 49 million shares in all, for net proceeds of $3.2 billion.[2] As of June 2007, the company's largest shareholders were Capital Research and Management Company (a Capital Group company), with 7.3%, and Barclays, with 4%.[3]

As a Suncor Energy subsidiary: 2009–present[edit]

The merger of Petro-Canada and Suncor was announced on March 23, 2009.[4] This created a company with a combined market capitalization of $43.3 billion. The merger was completed on 1 August 2009.[5]


A Toronto Petro-Canada station in May 2008.

As of 2008, Petro-Canada was Canada's 11th largest company and the second-largest downstream company, with important interests in such projects as Hibernia, Terra Nova, and White Rose; its gas stations remained a presence in most Canadian cities. It owned refineries in Edmonton, Alberta (135,000 bpd) and Montreal, Quebec (160,000 bpd), accounting for 16% of the Canadian industry's total refining capacity. Its lubricants plant in Mississauga, Ontario (15,600 bpd) refined crude oil feedstock to produce lubricating oil-based stocks (13,600 bpd of API Group II capacity and 2,000 bpd of API Group III capacity)[6] and other specialized products. All these facilities are currently run by Suncor.

At one time, the company had international operations in Algeria, the Netherlands, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Syria, Italy, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Morocco and Norway. These sites outside of North America were run by the International and Offshore Business Unit of Petro-Canada with its headquarters in London. This was the largest business unit, and much of its assets were part of the former Veba Oel company based in Essen, Germany.

In 2006, the company entered the mobile phone market with a prepaid service called Petro-Canada Mobility.[7]

As early as the mid-1990s in some Alberta locations, Petro-Canada started opening a new fast-food deli-oriented branded convenience store called Neighbours. Most of these stores are in the GTA.[8] The kitchen provided freshly made sandwiches as well as breakfast and burgers heated from frozen, and in most cases was open from early morning till 9 or 10 in the evening. As of 2013, many of these Neighbours stores have had their kitchens' afternoon and dinner hours drastically slashed and some have been permanently closed and are being rebranded to A&W.

Some locations include the "Glide Auto Wash", a hybrid car wash allowing a choice of a soft cloth or touchless wash. As of January 2015, there are 20 Glide locations - 15 in the Greater Toronto Area, 1 Ottawa ON, 3 in Calgary, 1 in Edmonton AB. Glide Auto Washes are being converted to soft cloth only due to low touchless take and complaint/rewash numbers. There are also 220 "SuperWash" locations from British Columbia to Quebec. Some other locations include an A&W restaurant within its stores.

Petro-Canada brand[edit]

A Petro-Canada Price Tower in Vancouver.
Petro-Canada Oil

Petro-Canada is a Suncor-owned brand for retail and marketing networks of petrol and lubricants. It has a loyalty program called "Petro Points" where the customers get points for fuel, car repair and store purchases. Its main petrol/gasoline additive was Tactrol.

The company works with Citibank for a Petro Points MasterCard. In June 2010, CIBC said it has signed a deal to buy a $2.1 billion credit card portfolio from Citigroup’s Citibank Canada MasterCard business including the Citi Petro-Canada MasterCard (but excluding the Citi Petro-Canada personal credit card).[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Company Profile for Petro-Canada (PCZ)". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  2. ^ Archived November 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Yahoo Finance
  4. ^ "Suncor, Petro-Canada announce merger". CBC News. 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2009-12-08.
  5. ^ "Competition Bureau OK's Suncor, Petro-Canada merger". CBC News. 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-12-08.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ CIBC buys card portfolio from Citigroup MasterCard business

External links[edit]