Category Archives: Crude By Rail

Train derailment: 230,000 gallons of crude oil released into Iowa floodwaters

Repost from the Des Moines Register

230,000 gallons of crude released into floodwaters after train derailment, railroad says

Associated Press, 4:59 p.m. CT June 23, 2018


DOON, Iowa — A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. He said that nearly half the spill had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed approximately 5 miles downstream. Williams had earlier said that 33 oil cars derailed.

Williams said that oil will be removed from that containment site with equipment to separate the oil from the water.

The railroad will focus on environmental recovery. Williams said “ongoing monitoring is occurring for any potential conditions that could impact workers and the community and, so far, have found no levels of concern.”

The train derailed early Friday just south of Doon in Lyon County, leaking oil into surrounding floodwaters from the swollen Little Rock River.

Crews work to clean up cars from the BNSF railway afterSome officials have speculated that floodwaters eroded soil beneath the train track. The nearby Little Rock River rose rapidly after heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday.

Within hours of the derailment, BNSF had brought in dozens of semitrailers loaded with equipment to clean up the spill, including containment booms, skimmers and vacuum trucks.

“We are working as quickly as we can to get this cleaned up,” Williams said Saturday. “We’ve had skimmers working since yesterday on the floodwater south of the site.”

A major part of that work includes building a temporary road parallel to the tracks to allow in cranes that can remove the derailed and partially-submerged oil cars. Williams said officials hoped to reach the cars by sometime Saturday afternoon.

The train was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Stroud, Oklahoma, for ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips spokesman Daren Beaudo said each tanker can hold more than 25,000 gallons of oil.

Beaudo also did not know whether the derailed oil cars were the safer, newer tankers intended to help prevent leaks in the event of an accident.

“We lease those cars and are in the process of verifying with the owners the exact rail car specifications,” Beaudo said in an email.

Gov. Kim Reynolds was set to visit the derailment site Saturday afternoon as part of a tour of areas hit by recent flooding.

The derailment also caused concern downstream, including as far south as Omaha, Nebraska, about 150 miles from the derailment site. The spill reached the Rock River, which joins the Big Sioux River before merging into the Missouri River at Sioux City.

Omaha’s public water utility — Metropolitan Utilities District — said it was monitoring pumps it uses to pull drinking water from the Missouri River.

Rock Valley, just southwest of the derailment, shut off its water wells within hours of the accident. It plans to drain and clean its wells and use a rural water system until testing shows its water is safe.

    U.S. imports of Canadian crude oil by rail increase

    Repost from Today in Energy

    MAY 2, 2018

    U.S. imports of Canadian crude oil by rail increase

    monthly crude oil shipments by rail, as explained in the article text

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly

    Growth in Canadian crude oil production has outpaced expansions in pipeline takeaway capacity and, along with past pipeline outages, has driven Canadian crude oil prices lower and increased Canadian crude oil exports by rail to the United States. However, the outlook for increased volumes of Canadian crude oil shipped by rail to the United States is highly uncertain despite significant U.S. demand for Canadian crude oil, specifically on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

    Crude oil production in Canada increased to 3.9 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, up approximately 300,000 b/d from 2016. However, crude oil pipeline capacity out of Canada has failed to keep pace with growing production. Consequently, volumes of Canadian crude oil exported to the United States by rail increased in 2017. In December 2017, U.S. imports of Canadian crude oil by rail set a monthly record of 205,000 b/d, nearly matching the amount of crude oil shipped by rail within the United States that month (246,000 b/d).

    Changes in the relative prices of two crude oils—Western Canada Select (WCS) in Hardisty, Alberta, and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) in Cushing, Oklahoma—demonstrate the effects of transportation constraints. Until late 2017, WCS prices averaged $10 to $15 per barrel (b) lower than WTI, largely reflecting differences in the quality of the two crudes. In late 2017 and early 2018, as crude oil production began to exceed pipeline capacity and demand to transport crude oil by rail increased, WCS priced about $25/b lower than WTI.

    The price spread between WCS and WTI has since narrowed to an average of $16/b in early April, suggesting some demand for transporting Canadian crude oil by rail has lessened. Low WCS prices may have led some Canadian crude oil producers to reduce output and advance schedules for planned maintenance, likely reducing the need to move crude oil by rail.

    daily price differences of selected crude oil, as explained in the article text

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg, L.P.

    Of the 144,000 b/d of Canadian crude oil imported by rail in 2017, about half (70,000 b/d) went to the U.S. Gulf Coast, or Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 3. Imports by rail made up 18% of total Canadian crude oil imports to the Gulf Coast, and 2% of the 3.1 million b/d of total crude oil imported by the Gulf Coast in 2017.

    monthly crude oil receipts by rail from Canada, as explained in the article text

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly

    With an API gravity of approximately 20 degrees, WCS crude oil is a heavy crude oil that is attractive to Gulf Coast refiners that process heavier crude oil. Traditional suppliers of heavy crude oil into the Gulf Coast region, such as Venezuela and Mexico, have experienced production declines that resulted in lower crude oil exports, making Canada an increasingly important source of U.S. imports of heavy crude oil.

    In January 2018, the U.S. Gulf Coast imported more crude oil from Canada (448,000 b/d) than from Venezuela (438,000 b/d) for the first time on record and imported more crude oil from Canada (379,000 b/d) than from Mexico (309,000 b/d) in September 2017. Another outlet for Canadian crude oil on the Gulf Coast may be re-exports. Since the removal of restrictions on crude oil exports from the United States, Canadian crude oil can be re-exported from the Gulf Coast without having to be segregated.

    monthly U.S. Gulf Coast crude oil imports by country, as explained in the article text

    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly

    Large-scale and sustained increases in crude oil by rail volumes from Canada face several obstacles from the Canadian rail industry and competing pipeline projects. Trade press reports indicate that before investing, Canadian rail companies are requiring that crude oil producers enter long-term commitments for crude oil-by-rail capacity. Canadian crude oil producers have been reluctant to agree to long-term rail commitments because pipeline capacity could increase in the short to medium term as new pipeline projects come online and some currently operating pipelines begin to ease volume restrictions.

    Principal contributors: Arup Mallik, Mason Hamilton

      FEMA REPORT: Ensuring Rail Preparedness for Hazardous Materials Incidents

      Public document from FEMA
      [Editor: The seven recommendations appear on pages 4-7.  Pages 8-10 detail some interesting new technologies in responding to HAZMAT emergencies.  – RS]

      Background:

      US Department of Homeland Security - Federal Emergency Management AgencyThe RESPONSE Act of 2016 directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee… to provide recommendations for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for HAZMAT incidents involving railroads.

      Final Report And Recommendations

      Click to open the REPORT

      The final reportEnsuring Rail Preparedness: Improving Responder Training and Resource Allocation for Rail Hazardous Materials Incidents, contains seven recommendations that the NAC approved, based on proposed recommendations submitted by the RESPONSE Subcommittee.