Oil Boom Putting Pressure on Both Pipelines and Rails

Scorched oil tankers remain on July 10, 2013 at the train derailment site in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Edward Bukhardt, CEO of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railways Inc.,(MMA) told reporters Wednesday that the train was left running while the engineer spent the night sleeping in a hotel in Nantes, adding that the engineer was following standard 'industry practice.' The train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic overnight Friday, causing a massive fire and explosions that killedat least 15 people, with another 45 still missing. 
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Oct. 22, 2013, 6:01 p.m.

As North Amer­ic­an oil pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to out­pace pipeline ca­pa­city, rail­ways are in­creas­ingly filling the gap. But a series of ex­plos­ive Ca­na­dian de­rail­ments have raised ques­tions about rail as a trans­port­a­tion al­tern­at­ive, and some are say­ing that oil gone off-the-tracks un­der­scores the need for pipeline ex­pan­sion.

“You saw the train ac­ci­dent in Canada,” said House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., when asked about the pro­posed Key­stone XL pipeline car­ry­ing heavy crude from Canada to U.S. re­finer­ies. He called pipelines “cheap­er and safer” than trains.

Even Key­stone op­pon­ents are wary of the bur­geon­ing oil-by-rail in­dustry. “Oil com­pan­ies have star­ted fa­cing a pipeline bot­tle­neck,” said Keith Stew­art, cli­mate and en­ergy cam­paign co­ordin­at­or for Green­peace Canada. As a res­ult, rail­cars are car­ry­ing more and more oil, a meth­od that has “been un­safe since the 1990s.”¦ [But the cars] con­tin­ue to be used.”

For Stew­art, rail prob­lems and pipeline-safety is­sues are a sig­nal that it’s time for heav­ier in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­ergy be­cause pet­ro­leum trans­port will al­ways present en­vir­on­ment­al risks.

Oth­ers see it dif­fer­ently. North Amer­ic­an oil pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to climb, say in­dustry groups and pipeline ad­voc­ates, and cur­rent con­sumer de­mand dic­tates that it will reach the mar­ket one way or an­oth­er. In the U.S., oil-by-rail ship­ments have doubled in two years, from 700,000 bar­rels a day to 1.4 mil­lion. West­ern Canada, ship­ping min­im­al amounts of crude by rail at the start of last year, now ex­ports 150,000 bar­rels per day on trains. That num­ber could jump to 360,000 bar­rels by the end of 2014, ac­cord­ing to in­dustry data and ana­lys­is com­pany IHS.

Tran­sCanada, the pro­spect­ive build­er of the Key­stone XL pipeline, es­tim­ates North Amer­ic­an trains could be mov­ing 2 mil­lion bar­rels a day be­fore 2014 is out.

That ex­pan­sion has al­lowed the in­dustry to bring North Amer­ic­an oil to mar­ket while pipelines catch up. But not every­one sees that as a good thing. In Ju­ly, a freight train car­ry­ing crude oil de­railed in Lac-Mégant­ic, Que­bec, killing 42 in the sub­sequent ex­plo­sion. Canada tightened safety stand­ards re­lated to the spe­cif­ics of that dis­aster, but a Sat­urday de­rail­ment and ex­plo­sion in Al­berta has re­newed wor­ries.

Just as the Que­bec de­rail­ment has be­come a flash point for the dangers of rail trans­port, crit­ics of­ten cite the 2010 En­bridge pipeline spill in­to Michigan’s Kala­ma­zoo River as an ex­ample of pipeline dangers. More than 1 mil­lion gal­lons of crude flowed in­to the river, thanks to a 17-hour delay between the ini­tial alarms and the com­pany’s re­ac­tion. Dredging cleanups have con­tin­ued as re­cently as this year, as the di­luted bitu­men shipped in the pipeline sunk to the river bot­tom.

Still, said Up­ton, that spill — the ef­fects of which made it down­stream to his dis­trict — should not be a reas­on to stop pipeline ex­pan­sion. He noted that the pipeline-safety bill he sponsored in 2011, and that was signed in­to law in early 2012, re­quires faster spill re­port­ing and great­er ac­count­ab­il­ity for pipeline op­er­at­ors. “Isn’t it bet­ter to put it in a pipeline than it is in a ship or a truck or rail?” he asked.

What We're Following See More »
AND POLICE OFFICERS IN EVERY SCHOOL
Gov. Scott Wants to Raise Gun-Purchase Age to 21
1 days ago
THE LATEST
IN THE WAKE OF NEW CHARGES
Gates Expected to Plead Guilty, Cooperate with Mueller
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to a raft of new tax and fraud charges filed against him by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday. Gates is expected to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

Source:
32 COUNTS
Mueller Hits Manafort, Gates with New Charges
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Robert Mueller announced new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort advisor Rick Gates. "The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges." The pair had been indicted on 12 charges in October. Since then, Gates's attorneys have asked to be excused from the case.

Source:
SECOND TIME FBI FAILED TO ACT
FBI Failed To Act On Parkland Shooter Tip
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

The FBI has reported that it failed to respond to a warning from "a person close to" Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Parkland High School on Thursday. "It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz." On the first occasion, it failed to properly investigate Cruz after it was reported to them that he left the following comment on a Youtube video: "Im going to be a school shooter."

Source:
FBI MISSED TIP ON PARKLAND SHOOTER
Florida Governor Calls on FBI Director to Resign
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign following revelations that the FBI had failed to adequately investigate multiple warnings about Parkland High School gunman Nikolas Cruz. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,'" said Scott. '...We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.'" According to an FBI statement, the FBI failed to inform local offices of information regarding "Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login