Friday, August 1, 2014

Bitumen-only trains expand oil sands reach


CALGARY — More trains carrying heavy oil are rumbling out of Alberta despite lingering safety concerns over hauling crude on tracks.

After investing in rail-loading infrastructure to bypass congestion on existing export routes, some companies are ramping up deliveries using bitumen-only unit trains, tapping markets that have in large measure remained beyond the reach of pipelines....[snip]

....The Calgary-based company said it loaded a bitumen-only unit train for the first time at a new terminal southeast of Edmonton, Alta. owned by Gibson Energy Inc. and U.S. Development Group. So far this year, Cenovus has shipped eight such trainloads.

The trains comprise up to 105 railcars that carry as much as 60,000 barrels of oil at a time, chief executive Brian Ferguson said in an interview....[snip]

....Oil sands crude could reach the Pacific via Canada’s West Coast and Washington state if rail-offloading capacity is built, he said. Those markets have remained largely off-limits while producers await pipeline access, although Nexen Energy ULC has mulled sending crude by rail to Ridley Island, near Prince Rupert, B.C., a person familiar with the plan said.

The West Coast “is a potential market for us,” Mr. Ferguson said. “That’s one of the big advantages of rail, is that it does give us that flexibility where we can literally choose month-to-month where we want to ship those trains.”.... read entire article here

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