Crude-by-rail exports rise to record level of more than 300,000 barrels per day

Crude-by-rail exports rise to more than 300,000 barrels per day

CALGARY — The National Energy Board says crude-by-rail exports from Canada rose to a record 327,229 barrels per day in October.

That’s up more than 21 per cent from 269,829 in September and represents the first time exports by rail have exceeded 300,000 barrels per day — in October 2017, only 137,000 bpd left the country in railcars.

Full export pipelines were blamed for a glut of oil in Western Canada that pressed down a the price for a key benchmark oilsands blend.

Western Canadian Select was priced more than US$50 per barrel less that New York benchmark West Texas Intermediate in October.

Those differentials have narrowed to around US$15 per barrel since the government of Alberta announced in early December it would impose crude oil production curtailments of 325,000 bpd starting Jan. 1.

The province has also promised to buy as many as 80 locomotives and 7,000 rail tankers to help move oil to markets starting in late 2019.

Oilsands giant Suncor Energy Inc. warned last week that the tighter differentials have made crude-by-rail shipping “uneconomic.” Analysts estimate it costs about US$20 per barrel to ship Canadian oil by rail to markets on the U.S. Gulf Coast, so differentials that are lower than that make the practise less attractive.

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