Inside Logistics

Oil by rail shipments fall in February

Imperial Oil cuts Alberta shipments

March 14, 2019
by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

CALGARY – Crude-by-rail shipments from Western Canada fell in February to the lowest level since May of last year, according to Genscape.

The U.S. company, which monitors rail terminals handling about 80 per cent of typical volumes from Western Canada, reports average loadings last month were 144,000 barrels per day, about half of the 281,000 bpd it recorded in January.

The falloff came after Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd. vowed in late January to cut rail shipments to near zero because of market reaction to the Alberta government’s crude production curtailment program that began on Jan. 1.

The company said it moved about 168,000 bpd of oil by rail in December or nearly half of the 354,000 bpd Canadian total crude-by-rail exports counted by the National Energy Board.

Spokeswoman Lisa Schmidt confirmed Tuesday that Imperial carried out the reduction in February but wouldn’t say whether shipping had resumed in March.

The company said it would cut back shipments because the curtailments had resulted in narrower differences between prices for crude sold in Alberta and in the U.S. and thus impaired the economic case for paying rail fees to win better prices on the U.S. Gulf Coast.