Crude by rail shipments increase 9-fold since 2012

The amount of crude oil being shipped via rail has increased by almost 900 per cent since the start of 2012, new data from the National Energy Board shows.
There's more than nine times as much crude oil being shipped by rail in Canada today compared to as recently as two years ago. ( Lui Kit Wong/Associated Press)

The amount of crude oil being shipped via rail has increased by almost 900 per cent since the start of 2012, new data from the National Energy Board shows.

The NEB said Tuesday that 15,980 barrels a day were exported by rail in the first quarter of 2012. By the last quarter of 2013, that figure had jumped to 146,047 — a more than nine-fold increase in under two years.

Crude by rail has been on the rise as Alberta's oilsands have stepped up production, and numerous pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway are stuck in government red tape.

The issue gained attention last summer with the explosion and derailment of railcars carrying crude oil in Lac-Megantic, Que., that killed 47 people.

The federal government vowed after the deadly crash to address safety issues and phase out older tank cars being used to transport oil.

This past winter, farmers faced an acute shortage of rail capacity available to carry their grains, because so much of the rail network has been targeted at moving oil products.

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