U.S. Safety Ruling causes Canada company to suspend use of some DOT-111 tank cars

Repost from The Calgary Herald

Crude-by-rail shipper deals with U.S. ruling

Some cars suspended but shipments continuing, says Torq CEO

Crude-by-rail shipper deals with U.S. ruling
Emergency workers examine the aftermath of a train derailment and fire in Lac-Megantic, Que., last July. Photograph by: Ryan Remiorz , AP

By Dan Healing, Calgary Herald February 26, 2014

CALGARY — Some tanker cars in Western Canada have been temporarily suspended from being used to ship oil in the wake of Tuesday’s U.S. rail safety ruling, the chief executive of Calgary-based terminal operator Torq Transloading Inc. said Wednesday.

But service is continuing to be offered, Jarrett Zielinski told the Herald.

“Everything is under regulatory review. The shipments we ship are compliant,” he said in an interview.

“Every precaution is being taken on our end. We are working collaboratively with the regulators, the railroads and the customers to ensure all of our shipments are compliant and there has been no interruption of service.”

A story by Bloomberg earlier in the day had quoted a Torq executive as saying shipments had been halted but Zielinski said that’s not true.

The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday ordered energy companies to immediately conduct chemical tests on all crude intended for rail shipment and warned that certain commodities require more robust tank cars for transport.

Zielinski said his private company ships between 40,000 and 45,000 barrels of oil per day but it doesn’t own the cars. He said the “vast majority” of the cars are compliant and any that are questionable have been “temporarily suspended while they are reclassified.”

He said about 95 per cent of the oil his company ships is undiluted heavy oil, which has a much lower risk of igniting than the light crudes shipped from the North Dakota Bakken — such as the cargo aboard the train that exploded in July at Lac-Megantic, Que., killing 47 people.

Most of the oil is bound for the United States. He said Torq frequently tests the product.

Two Calgary-based oilsands shippers said they don’t believe the U.S. ruling will affect their transportation plans.

Producer MEG Energy Corp., which began shipping diluted bitumen in December through the Canexus Corp. rail-loading facility northeast of Edmonton, and moved six unit trains each carrying 60,000 barrels of diluted bitumen in January, is not affected, said spokesman Brad Bellows.

“The cars we have made arrangements to move our products on are very modern cars that meet or exceed all the recent standards and the outlook,” he said.

Spokesman Pius Rolheiser of Imperial Oil Ltd. said the new rules are not expected to affect a project to build a 100,000-barrel-per-day oil loading terminal near Edmonton.

“We’re still in the process of design and manufacture of the cars but I can tell you with certainty they will meet Canadian safety guidelines,” he said. “The tanker cars we use in this project will meet the DOT 111-F specification, which is the American Association of Railroads current specs. That requires thicker shells as well as steel shields to guard both ends of the car.”

Imperial Oil will be the base load customer in the project it is sharing with American transportation partner Kinder Morgan Energy Partners. Startup is set for next December and the terminal is expected to ship diluted bitumen from Imperial’s Kearl oilsands mine.

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