The Canadian prime minister’s assertion in May that transporting oil to the United States by rail is environmentally challenging seems to be a bit of an understatement after an entire Canadian city was obliterated by a train derailment of crude oil from the Bakken shale oil fields. Obama and his minions have done everything in their power to block oil pipelines. Therefore, record amounts of crude oil are being transported by rail car. This makes Warren Buffett very happy as he reaps millions in profits from his buddy Obama’s idiotic policy stance. Is it safer from an environmental standpoint to transport oil through a stationary pipeline that can be monitored electronically 24/7 or to put it on thousands of ancient rail cars running on ancient railroad tracks, over ancient bridges, with the locomotives driven by potentially sleepy, incompetent, or drug addicted engineers? Ask the people of Lac-Megantic. The ones that are still alive.
Deadly Quebec derailment puts the spotlight on crude by rail
By Claudia Assis
A train derailment that killed at least five people and left scores unaccounted for in a small Quebec town over the weekend heightened safety concerns about crude oil shipments by rail, which have shot up in recent years to handle North America’s oil boom.
The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Corp. said Sunday air brakes may be to blame for the derailment, which set off fires and explosions that destroyed much of the center of Lac-Megantic, less than 20 miles from the Maine border.
The unmanned train, carrying thousands of barrels of oil, began rolling toward town in the early hours of Saturday for reasons still under investigation. It went off the tracks and exploded.
The train was parked at the Nantes station, and its locomotive at the station was shut down after the engineer departed for the night. That may have resulted in the release of air brakes on the locomotive holding the train in place, the company said.
Investigators are also looking whether an onboard fire shortly before the train arrived at the station may have played a role.
Before the accident, the MMA railway had been “regarded as a turnaround story,” finding renewed success in transporting crude by rail, according to a story on Canada’s The Globe and Mail.
The railway is a key link from oil from the Bakken formation and Canadian oil sands to Irving Oil’s refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, the newspaper said.
Shipments of crude by rail have increased sharply in recent years, and have become enmeshed with the controversy surrounding oil pipelines and environmental concerns about the oil boom.
Analysts at Scotiabank said in a note Monday oil shipments in Canada have almost tripled over the past two years to more than 14,000 car loadings so far this year.
“This has been one of the ways in which markets have attempted to circumvent a shortage of North American pipeline infrastructure,” the bank said.
Nearly 234,000 carloads of crude were shipped in 2012, from 9,500 carloads in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads. Based on the more than 97,000 carloads shipped in the first quarter of this year, the association expects “another big jump” in crude shipments in 2013.
The BNSF railroad, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
/quotes/zigman/219651/quotes/nls/brk.aBRK.A+0.44% empire, is one of the biggest crude-carriers.
“Our railroad is now transporting about 500,000 barrels of oil daily, roughly 10% of the total produced in the ‘lower 48′,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders earlier this year. ”All indications are that BNSF’s oil shipments will grow substantially in coming years,” he added.
A rail tank car can carry up to 32,000 gallons of light crude oil, and about 25,000 gallons of denser, heavy crude oil, the Association said. In 2011, the average crude oil shipment contained about 28,000 gallons.
In May, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canadian oil was coming to the U.S. with or without Keystone XL, and railroads are “far more environmentally challenging.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is awaiting State Department approval. State is involved because the line straddles Canada and the U.S. The line is expected to be operating in mid- to late 2015 if approved.
Construction of the Gulf Coast pipeline, the southern leg of the proposed Keystone system, is on track to begin operating by the end of the year. The line links Cushing, Okla., the delivery point of New York Mercantile Exchange oil, to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico area.