The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Oil exports by rail ramping up, but still far eclipsed by pipeline movements

  • Print

CALGARY - New National Energy Board data shows oil-by-rail exports have risen ninefold in less than two years, but they're still far eclipsed by what's moving by pipeline — and by what the stalled Keystone XL alone aims to carry.

The Canadian energy regulator's figures released Monday show more than 146,000 barrels per day were exported on trains to the United States in the last three months of 2013, compared with just under 16,000 in the first three months of 2012.

But in all of 2013, less than five per cent of Canada's 2.6 million barrels per day of crude oil exports moved by rail according to a separate NEB report released in March, which also showed pipeline exports growing much more dramatically than those moving by rail between 2012 and 2013.

"Obviously oil by rail is ramping up, but it's still relatively small potatoes," said Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart.

Oil exports by all modes have been increasing, said NEB spokeswoman Tara O'Donovan.

"With the existing oil pipelines being generally full, the shippers have to find some way for their product to get to market, so they've turned to rail," she said, adding rail also allows access to markets where there are no pipelines.

The U.S. State Department's final environmental report on the Keystone XL oil pipeline took crude-by-rail growth into account when it determined that increased oilsands development — and its accompanying contribution to climate change — would not hinge on a single pipeline being built.

The U.S. report said rail loading facilities in Western Canada are expected to hit a capacity of more than 1.1 million barrels per day by the end of this year, most of which would be in heavy oil-producing areas. When it released its report in January, the U.S. State Department estimated about 180,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude had already been moving by rail.

The NEB says of the crude that was exported by rail in 2013, 45 per cent — around 60,000 barrels per day — went to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the refining market coveted by backers of Keystone XL, which aims to ship 830,000 barrels per day of crude. A similar amount went to the Eastern Seaboard.

Rail plays a "complementary" role to pipelines, said Geraldine Anderson, with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

"We've always used rail in some capacity and, going forward, we're going to need all modes of transportation, be it rail, be it pipeline, be it tankers to complement each other and to get our product to market."

Greenpeace's Stewart said he finds it "alarming" that crude-by-rail continued to rise after July 2013, when a fiery wreck in Lac-Megantic, Que., killed 47 people. According to the NEB, rail exports grew by around 18 per cent between the third and fourth quarters of last year.

"I don't think this would have happened if oil companies were actually liable for damages," he said, calling the way risk is divvied up "crazy."

"The oil companies get the benefit. The rail companies and communities face the risk."

Follow @LaurenKrugel on Twitter

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - The Floodway Connection

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google