Falling oil prices: what impact on North American crude by rail?

In Benicia, some are wondering about implications for and against Valero’s crude-by-rail proposal
By Roger Straw, November 29, 2014

The business news pages of mainline media are repeatedly trumpeting the dramatic decline in the price of oil.  Regular folks here are happy to see gas prices at the pump at or below $3/gallon.  Business Insider reports that “The decline in the price of oil has been fast and furious, with oil prices falling more than 30% since June.”  This has been near disastrous for some petroleum producers.  (See links below for details.)

New Eastern Outlook author William Engdahl offered a broad global political perspective on November 3.  According to Engdahl, “The collapse in US oil prices since September may very soon collapse the US shale oil bubble and tear away the illusion that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer. That illusion, fostered by faked resource estimates issued by the US Department of Energy, has been a lynchpin of Obama geopolitical strategy.”

Engdahl continues, “The end of the shale oil bubble would deal a devastating blow to the US oil geopolitics. Today an estimated 55% of US oil production and all the production increase of the past several years comes from fracking for shale oil. With financing cut off because of economic risk amid falling oil prices, shale oil drillers will be forced to halt new drilling that is needed merely to maintain a steady oil output.”

Will North American crude oil supply dry up sooner than predicted?  Will volatile global and American oil pricing make offloading oil trains a riskier business proposition than previously thought?

What are planners at Valero saying about this?  More importantly, what are they thinking, and talking about behind closed doors?  Will anyone be hitting a pause button on crude-by-rail, or will they be hitting the accelerator?

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