We're Transporting More Crude Oil By Rail Now Than Ever Before

Canadian authorities are now saying the runaway crude oil freighter that blew up a town in Quebec may have been sabotaged.

If true, it would not be surprising as trains transporting crude see far fewer accidents than truck tankers. 

But here’s some more context that should maybe give us some pause: more crude products than ever are being transported by rail, according to data cited today by the EIA.

Here’s the chart:

crude transport by rail eia

We’re now transporting 1.37 million barrels per day, or 13,700 rail tankers— a 48% increase from last year. 

Here’s the agency’s comment:

The jump in crude oil production from North Dakota, where there is not enough pipeline capacity to move supplies, accounts for a large share of the increased deliveries of oil by rail. North Dakota is the second largest oil producing state after Texas, as advanced drilling technology has unlocked millions of barrels of tight oil in the Bakken Shale formation.

The figure could do go down as pipelines come online and if production slows (which appears to be happening, as we reported yesterday), but it looks like we’ll be on track for more trains for a while.

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