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Overview of Crude-by-Rail

Crude-by-Rail is the act of transporting crude oil from one location to another by the use of railroads. Crude-by-rail is often used as an alternative to other methods of transportation like pipelines or oil tankers. Railways are able to carry tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day. The U.S. crude-by-rail infrastructure stretches across the entire United States, however it is more concentrated in the eastern half of the country. 

Transporting flammable crude oil over the rails can be dangerous for both communities and the environment. For this reason the crude-by-rail industry is heavily regulated. Regulations govern train speeds, equipment materials, inspection intervals, and more. In the U.S., many regulations affecting the crude-by-rail industry are issued by Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Association (PHMSA).

There are also strict construction standards in place when it comes to the construction of railcars transporting crude oil. Of course, even with these intensive safety standards in place accidents still happen. This is why it’s essential that crude-by-rail operators follow applicable regulations, stay versed on all safety procedures and best practices, and perform timely and proper inspections.

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            • News
              Reuters, April 25, 2017

              U.S. East Coast refiners are looking to buy increasing volumes of domestic crude oil from the Gulf Coast, two sources said, the latest twist in a trade flow upheaval in the wake of the opening of the Dakota Access pipeline.

            • News
              Reuters, October 10, 2016

              North Dakota oil producers were dealt another blow this week when Royal Dutch Shell said it would scrap plans to build an oil train terminal in Washington state that would have taken over 400,000 barrels per week of Bakken and other inland crudes. Shell's move comes at a bad time for Bakken producers, who have endured a two-year price rout and need new routes to move their oil to coastal refineries.

            • News
              The Star Phoenix, June 2, 2016

              Plains Midstream Canada ULC, a subsidiary of U.S.based Plains All American Pipeline, has announced they will be shutting down a crude-by-rail terminal in Saskatchewan less than 8 months after commissioning the $140 million facility.

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