The movement of crude oil by rail in the United States has increased many-fold in the recent years and, for the first time, Energy Information Agency (EIA) is providing monthly data on these movements.
The lack of pipelines to transport shale oil and gas from the plays to the consumers means that a lot of the hydrocarbons have to be moved by road or rail. For example, each week, roughly sixty to seventy trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region travel through the Commonwealth destined for Philadelphia or another East Coast refinery. According to the EIA, total crude-by-rail movements in the United States and between the United States and Canada were more than 1 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, up from 55,000 bbl/d in 2010.
The new monthly time series of crude oil rail movements published by the EIA includes shipments to and from Canada and dramatically reduces the absolute level of unaccounted for volumes in EIA’s monthly balances for each region.
EIA is initiating the new series with monthly data from January 2010 through the current reporting month, January 2015. Crude-by-rail activity is tracked between pairs of Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) regions (inter-PADD), within each region (intra-PADD), and across the U.S.-Canada border. EIA developed the new series using information provided by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) along with data from Canada’s National Energy Board, and EIA survey data.
Growth in total CBR movements slowed in 2014, but the average crude-by-rail volume exceeded 1 million bbl/d. Bakken crude from PADD 2 continued to dominate flows, making up 70 per cent of crude-by-rail volumes. Niobrara crude from PADD 4 grew in importance as the second-largest origin for rail shipments. East Coast refineries (PADD 1) were the primary destination for crude-by-rail receipts in 2014.
Image Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration based on data from the Surface Transportation Board and other information.
Note: Crude-by-rail movements greater than 1,000 barrels per day are represented on the map; short-distance movements between rail yards within a region are excluded.
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