Saturday, 15 March 2014

Canadian oil moving south by train, competing with XL pipeline. Cue outrage.

Highlights from the Kansas City Star:

Choo choo trains of yesteryear have become “tremendously nimble competitors.” and "changed the competitive landscape forever", especially for thick Canadian oil sands product. Within two years CN and CP rail capacity will be abreast of the 830,000 barrels per day projected for the XL pipeline. North American oil train shipping ramped up from 10,000 carloads five years ago to 400,000 last year and 600-800,000 projected by 2016.  (This also means Canadian oil is getting a better price. By the way, most of the XL is already built from Cushing ND, south. Just the Canadian leg is blockaded by politicians and environmentalists.)

The little engine that could
The thick oil doesn't have to be diluted by a third and then undiluted at the other end to get through the pipeline, especially if the oil is kept warm in the tankers.  The tankers carry loads both ways but the pipelines are just one or the other.  The tankers can go to many more destinations including the east and west coast and barge destinations but pipelines cannot. Train capacity can be stepped up quickly in small increments with fewer approvals.    (If you Google "oil trains" you will only find links to outrage and danger flags.  Even in that area, there are gains:  New tankers have thicker walls and oil sands oil, being thicker, is less flammable.)

"Railroads have defied skeptics and are in it for the long haul".

Footnote:  Some oil prices are climbing because the backlog at Cushing ND is declining and that oil is being moved to market at world prices.   There was a big dollar discount for it until recently.  Another contribution to this is the Seaway pipeline that Enbridge bought and reversed to flow north to south.
"These barrels are no longer landlocked, so they're tracking the global price rather than that landlocked lower price they were seeing for the last couple of years,"

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