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Railcar Oil Volumes vs. Pipeline


JEast
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At this year's annual during the Q&A, it was pointed out that railcars could move more volume and faster than an oil pipeline.  Just wonder if anyone actually followed up on this as when I asked the rep at the BNSF booth, he thought it was a little off.  Anyone?

 

Cheers

JEast

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I have seen the item below, but it is not exactly accurate as railcars actually only average around 25-30mph after taking into account traffic, switching, and moving through more populated areas.  Still faster than 10-20MPH, but unsure of the volume differential.

 

Rail offers flexibility, and “it’s significantly faster than moving by pipeline.” Rail cars move at 50 to 60 mph while pipelines move crude at 10 to 20 mph.
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Pipeline safer than railcar??  Really??  Not so fast young man. 

 

If you have a pipeline that bursts/fails as happened in Arkansas not too long ago that pumps 90,000 barrels per day of crude, it only takes a few hours to have a big spill versus a 750 barrel tanker car that actually may be contained if derailed.  On the whole, pipelines may be safer statistically but one must look at the what if(s).  The if(s) are if a pipeline fails -- it is usually way bigger than a railcar or two or three.

 

Safer??  Consequences are what matter here I think.

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Can you imagine no pipeline...

The amount of additional railcars on tracks would definitely cause a surge in accidents due to higher trafic.

 

What I found with a quick search on the internet:

-Pipelines are 70 times safer than railcars.

-you can compare pipeline vs railcars with cars & planes. A plane crash will kill hundreds of people and will be shown on all the news. And you won't hear about car accidents but they definitively kill more people than planes.

 

Anyway look everywhere you want, you won't find many studies or articles that says that railcars are safer than pipeline.

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

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Just to balance out the discussion:

 

“Increasing volumes of crude oil transported by rail raise questions of safety,” the IEA said in its medium-term oil market report. “Our analysis reveals that compared to pipelines, rail incident rates are higher while the opposite holds for spill rates.”

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-14/pipelines-spill-three-times-as-much-oil-as-trains-iea-says.html

 

And a different report:

 

Over the past decade, total railroad crude oil spills equal less than one percent of the total pipelines spills. (2002-2012, railroads spilled 2,268 barrels total vs. pipelines’ 474,441 barrels total). 

Last year, the pipeline crude oil spill percentage was 10 times that of the railroads (Rail = 0.00006% vs. pipelines = 0.0005% in 2012).

Over the past decade (2002-2012), the estimated spill rate for crude oil moving by rail was 0.38 compared with the estimated pipeline spill rate of 0.88 (measured as gallons spilled per million barrel miles moved).

 

https://www.aar.org/safety/Documents/Freight%20Railroads%20Safely%20Moving%20Crude%20Oil.pdf

 

Agree with finetrader about imagining a world without pipelines. Impractical to move large volumes without dedicated pipe. That and the optics of pipeline spills are always bad due to the large volumes involved.

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  • 1 month later...

Deadly Train Derailment Fuels Crude-by-Rail Concerns

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324867904578591932401897430.html?mod=ITP_pageone_0

 

 

"Traditionally, railroads are less attractive to oil companies because of higher shipping costs compared with pipelines. But the rapid development of new oil fields, from West Canada through North Dakota and into West Texas in the past five years, has production outpacing pipeline construction, leading many producers and refiners to turn to rail, initially as a temporary fix.

 

But once seen as a temporary solution until new, permanent pipelines could be built, rail usage has proved to be so effective that many refiners have come to prefer the railroad.

 

Even though pipelines are generally less expensive and less prone to leaks and spills, rail offers refiners the ability to bring in crude from different locations at different prices, instead of being stuck with a single source of oil.

 

In fact, at least two pipeline projects—one to transport crude from North Dakota's Bakken shale to a storage hub in Oklahoma, and one to move West Texas oil to California—have been interrupted due to lack of interest from refiners already accessing rail shipments."

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  • 1 month later...

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