Tag Archive for crude oil by rail

Signs of crude oil by rail market US share changes out towards 2017 // Forecast Volatility

This from a selective assessment from a Bismarck Tribune news report. //

As of the end of June 2015, the most recent figures available, shipments of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota via rail and pipeline were essentially equal: 47 percent by rail, 46 percent by pipeline. The rail shipments market share have gone down substantially since the peak in late 2014 says Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

The ability to make an economic forecast of oil by rail volume has demonstrated a MARKET VOLATILITY of about 25% within a half year period in 2015.

Expectations by various experts of future crude oil by rail may have to be tempered.

The data shows that the estimated rail export volumes of crude by rail leaving North Dakota peaked around 850,000 barrels per day at the end of 2014.

By June of 2015, the ND oil origin shipments by rail had dropped nearly 25% to around 640,000 barrels in the past 6-months.

Regardless of current 2015 market trends, the top year for future oil by rail out of North Dakota “might be” the year 2017. Given the global price of energy factors, it is difficult to predict. What do you think?

For more, see: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/oil-shipments-by-rail-drop-as-pipeline-shipments-increase/article_6a02aa9b-55c0-5a28-8743-f2bc8b670e85.html

Confused by crude oil by rail tank car choices? Contact STARS for practical solutions

There is a great deal of confusion about the technical choices facing shippers as to what to do with their tank car fleet.

The basic choices are to 1) buy all new tank cars at prices probably north of $130,000 each?  Which means writing off maybe as much as $90,000 in the value of each existing tank car?

Or 2), modify with safety appliances the existing tank cars with perhaps 30 years economic life left on them at a cost upwards of $40,000 each?

The regulators like the FRA and the NTSB or the STB can not help you.  They draft and issue safety rules.  They give you no economic or technical help in making the choice of “how to execute”.

There is, however, a specialized independant company composed of experienced former railway tank car professionals and FRA inspectors that you can turn to for help.


This Maryland based consultancy called STARS can give you the technical help that regulators can’t.

The company’s formal name is “Specialty Transportation and Regulatory Services”.  The President,Wendy Buckley, and her skilled staff has already found ways to help both crude oil and chemical hazmat shippers execute safety improvements in ways that represent a significant return on investment for their fees.

I have interacted directly with STARS and found their client business cases to be exceptional examples of “value delivered.”

Contact me if you need a specific reference.

Or contact STARS directly at their web site www.STARSConsulting.org.






BNSF increases track inspection and tank car safety process

In response to growing community concerns surrounding crude oil train movements, BNSF has announced an aggressive track inspection and tank car inspection program.

BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino has told reporters in Illinois that the railway company has tightened its oversight of tank cars and reduced its tolerance for when potential wheel defects would lead the company to pull a car out of service.

The Texas headquartered freight railroad in late March slowed crude oil trains to 35 mph in all cities with more than 100,000 people.

It also increased track inspections near waterways.

It stepped up efforts to find and repair defective wheels.

“We wanted to take some operations steps to further drive safe operations while we waited for the new (tank car) standards” (finally ordered by the federal government in early May).

Most rail tank cars are not owned by the railroads, but by the shippers and oil receivers who lease them to move the oil freight.

BNSF confirms that its trained railroad personnel now inspect the crude oil route tracks that it operates over 2.5 times more often than FRA regulations require as the federal minimum safety standard.

BNSF also reduced the spacing between sophisticated track-side detectors along the crude oil train main line routes to better and more frequently identify wheels and axles that are beginning to fail.