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NEWS: Harper told no regulatory approval needed for moving tar sands oil by rail

The Canadian Press reports, “In response to growing opposition to applications by Enbridge and Kinder Morgan to construct pipelines … a (Feb. 8) briefing note for the prime minister (says Transport Canada confirms) rail companies face no regulatory hurdles for hauling western Canadian crude oil to markets… The document, which has significant redactions, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, (and was) signed by the clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters…”

The article adds, “Canadian Pacific … moved some 8.3 million barrels of crude oil in 2011, and expects to hit 44.8 million barrels next year… (And) CN moved some 3.2 million barrels of crude in 2011, and is expected to hit 19.2 million barrels by the end of this year…” But the briefing note states, “While rail transport could play some role in facilitating market access for Canadian producers, this mode will not readily substitute for the 525,000 barrels per day that could flow through the Northern Gateway pipeline, or the 300,000+ barrels per day additional capacity associated with Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.”

Maclean’s recently reported, “Fraught with lengthy construction timelines, environmental scrutiny and bottlenecks, oil pipelines are beginning to take a back seat among producers to a more flexible and old-fashioned delivery system: railways. Jason Konzuk, an oil and gas analyst with Dundee Capital Markets, said Canadian Pacific anticipates crude oil shipments will rise from 13,000 carloads in 2011 to 70,000 carloads in 2014 and CN shipments will climb from 5,000 carloads in 2011 to over 25,000 carloads this year.”

That article adds, “One oil firm, Calgary’s Gibson Energy Inc., recently expressed interest in building a train loading facility near Hardisty, Alta.—a key departure point for crude from the oilsands. It would allow the company to bypass the pipeline bottleneck at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla., and move up to 60,000 barrels of oil per day to markets across North America.” The Globe and Mail has also noted, “Korea National Oil Corp.’s Canadian company, Harvest Operations Corp., is examining whether it could rail Alberta oil to the east coast and then send it on barges to its refinery in Come By Chance, Nfld., which has struggled with the cost of the Atlantic-sourced crude it now uses.”

The Canadian Press article can be read at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/10/13/pol-moving-crude-west-by-pipeline-or-rail-or-west-to-east.html.