US crude oil railcar shipments rise sharply in first quarter

31 May 2013 14:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US crude oil railcar shipments rose sharply in the 2013 first quarter, driven by increased US domestic oil production, a rail industry group said on Friday.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) said that US Class I railroads originated a record 97,135 carloads of crude oil in the first quarter, up 20% from 81,122 carloads in fourth quarter of 2012, and up 166% year on year from 36,544 carloads originated in the first quarter of 2012.

The AAR said that while historically most US crude oil moved via pipeline from production areas to refineries, the trend is changing as the existing crude oil pipeline network cannot handle the volumes of oil being produced in areas such as North Dakota’s booming Bakken shale deposit.

The 97,135 carloadings of crude oil in the 2013 first quarter equal about 762,000 bbl/day. With US oil production at around 7.1m bbl/day in the first quarter, "the rail share is around 11% - up from a negligible percentage a few years ago," the AAR said.

As recently as 2008, US Class I railroads - including the US Class I subsidiaries of Canadian railroads - originated just 9,500 carloads of crude oil. By 2011, carloads originated were up to nearly 66,000, and in 2012 they surged to nearly 234,000 carloads.

"Based on the more than 97,000 carloads of crude oil in the first quarter of this year, another big jump is expected in 2013," the AAR predicted.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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