​Crude by rail volumes fall in February as Imperial Oil cuts Alberta shipments

Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

CALGARY — Crude-by-rail shipments from Western Canada fell in February to the lowest level since May of last year, according to Genscape.

The U.S. company, which monitors rail terminals handling about 80 per cent of typical volumes from Western Canada, reports average loadings last month were 144,000 bbls/d, about half of the 281,000 bbls/d it recorded in January.

The falloff came after Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd. vowed in late January to cut rail shipments to near zero because of market reaction to the Alberta government's crude production curtailment program that began on Jan. 1.

The company said it moved about 168,000 bbls/d of oil by rail in December or nearly half of the 354,000 bbls/d Canadian total crude-by-rail exports counted by the National Energy Board.

Spokeswoman Lisa Schmidt confirmed Tuesday that Imperial carried out the reduction in February but wouldn't say whether shipping had resumed in March.

The company said it would cut back shipments because the curtailments had resulted in narrower differences between prices for crude sold in Alberta and in the U.S. and thus impaired the economic case for paying rail fees to win better prices on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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