by Tina Olivero

    Crude By Rail

    Transporting crude oil by rail has been growing in North America and with pipeline concerns mounting it is becoming even more attractive in Western Canada. Rail transport has a multitude of benefits over other crude transport solutions.

    CN Unit Train:

    • 70 to 120 cars carrying only crude oil
    • Manifest trains are mixed cargo trains delivering to different destinations
    • Unit trains are used to carry one type of cargo from one location to another
    • Economics for transport by rail improves with unit trains, however, unit train off loading capability is needed at destination

    CN Rail:

    • Rail car capacity carrying light oil: 600 to 700 bbls
    • Rail car capacity carrying heavy oil: 500 to 525 bbls
    • RailBit and raw bitumen is transported incoiled and insulated rail cars to prevent solidifying in cold weather


    • 12,989 rail cars (1.1 million tonnes) were loaded in February 2013 transporting fuel oils and crude petroleum – a 60 per cent growth from February 2012
    • In 2012, approximately 46,000 b/d of crude oil was exported to the U.S. by rail with most going to the U.S. Gulf Coast (48 per cent) and PADD I (43 per cent) with the remainder exported to PADD II and PADD V.
    • Experts forecast these exports to reach as much as 200,000 b/d by the end of 2013.

    Source: Capp

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