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Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Jan 2015, 22:14:41
It will be interesting to see what the price collapse does to the rail vs pipeline dynamics. Pipelines are comparatively huge capex projects that require large and consistent volumes for years to just recover initial investments. My impression is that rail expansion is quicker to expand, less capex commitment per bbl and greater flexibility. Not predicting it will happen but the anti-pipeline folks may get their wish: cancellation of proposed pipelines. But replaced by expanded rail transport.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Jan 2015, 22:22:55
by Graeme
I expect there will be "anti-rail" groups too; well I mean "anti-oil" trains. Did your read the last few paragraphs of the article I posted in my previous post?

In September, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration announced a Proposed Rule to Prevent Unintended Movement of Trains. Something as simple as making sure trains full of explosive oil have to be secured is still in the proposed rule stage.

That means it will not be part of the new regulations that are supposed to be out on January 15. It also means that lobbyists will be able to schedule private meetings with the regulators at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the next several months to influence any final new regulations on securing trains, just like they did this year when they worked against any new oil-by-rail regulations.

One other safety factor not addressed in the new regulations is the actual oil and how it is more explosive than traditional crude oil.

After the Lac-Megantic disaster tests showed that the oil—which was from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota—was as explosive as gasoline, something that is not true about most crude oils but that is a characteristic of oil obtained by fracking tight shale formations like the Bakken. And that explained why downtown Lac-Megantic was consumed by explosions and fire.

After the new proposed federal regulations completely failed to address the issue of the Bakken oil’s volatility, there was still hope that North Dakota regulators would require the oil to be stabilized prior to shipment in rail cars.

Those hopes were dashed last month when North Dakota regulators released new “standards” allowing oil significantly more volatile and dangerous than the oil involved in the Lac-Megantic accident.

So when the oil trains return to Lac-Megantic in 2016, they can still carry the same dangerous oil they did in 2013—in the same unsafe rail cars. No executives of any rail or oil corporation will have been charged with any wrongdoing.

Just as BP is currently promoting that it’s “back to work in the Gulf of Mexico”, the future is indeed bright for the oil and rail companies who will be running oil trains through Lac-Megantic.

The same can’t be said for the 25 million people who, like the people of Lac-Megantic, continue to live in the blast zones of the bomb trains.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 03 Jan 2015, 11:12:15
Graeme - Yep. But the problem is that much more dangerous/deadly materials the oil have moved down those rails for mint decades. And will continue to do so for decades into the future since the economy depends upon them. So while policy changes might improve safety to some degree nothing will be done to restrict the movement of a single bbl of anything. I'm not going to try to dig out the details but I suspect at the current lower prices it will be more economical to expand rail then pipelines. After all, much of the infrastructure (unlike a yet to be built pipeline) already exists.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 03 Jan 2015, 11:48:40
by Keith_McClary
Graeme wrote:Did your read the last few paragraphs of the article I posted in my previous post?
We don't read the vast amount of words you cut'n'paste here. If you quoted selectively I would pay more attention.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 03 Jan 2015, 12:20:24
by Scrub Puller
Yair . . .

We don't read the vast amount of words you cut'n'paste here. If you quoted selectively I would pay more attention.



Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 03 Jan 2015, 14:55:50
by Graeme
You might actually take more notice if one of those trains just happen to crash (or explode) into your property or someone you care about. Then you'd pay more attention. Cheers. "Standards" have changed to allow more volatile oil to move on rail. Are you people nuts or what? How many more deaths must occur before you stop this madness? Did you not see that 25 million are at risk?

Those hopes were dashed last month when North Dakota regulators released new “standards” allowing oil significantly more volatile and dangerous than the oil involved in the Lac-Megantic accident.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 03 Jan 2015, 16:05:52
by Alaska_geo
Graeme wrote:I expect there will be "anti-rail" groups too;

Indeed there are. There was an interesting article in the NYT a few days ago:

In Vancouver WA, environmental groups are supporting a large real estate development as a way block construction of an oil train terminal on the Columbia River.
But here in southern Washington, some environmental groups are
quietly pushing a builder to move even faster with a $1.3 billion real estate
project along the Columbia River that includes office buildings, shops and
towers with 3,300 apartments.

The reason is oil.

Two miles west of the 32­acre project, called the Waterfront, one of the
biggest proposed oil terminals in the country is going through an
environmental review, with plans to transfer North Dakota crude from rail
cars to barges. Up to four trains, carrying 360,000 barrels of oil, would pass
every day through this city’s downtown, only a few hundred feet from the
Waterfront’s towers, westbound from the Bakken shale oil fields..

“We have a very large project that is directly pitted against the oil
terminal,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of Columbia
Riverkeeper, a watchdog group for the river, and an opponent of the oil

The result is a sort of race to the crossing: If the Waterfront can get its
bricks and mortar in the ground before the terminal is approved — possibly
late next year, with litigation likely to follow — more people would be living and working near the oil­train line. Compounding what opponents, led by the city, say are the dangers of spills or derailments, would make the
terminal’s path to approval steeper.

The surge of fossil fuels delivered by rail that is wending its way across
many corners of America is hitting the Pacific Northwest — the closest
straight line from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean — with a fury, and a
complex new calculation of strategy for both sides.

I'm sure part of the equation is who benefits from moving the oil via rail. Certainly the oil producing states and provinces benefit greatly from having improved rail routes to ship the oil. For the local folks in Vancouver the benefits may not be as much. They get a small number of local jobs, and property taxes on the new facilities. Whether this outweighs the risks associated with the terminal is not so clear. For Vancouver WA it gets even more complex. Washington has a state sales tax, but no state income tax. Oregon has a state income tax, but no state sales tax. Lots of people choose to live in Washington and do their shopping in across the river in Portland, Oregon. Each region in the west will have it's own local reasons to either support or resist developments aimed at transporting oil.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 14 Feb 2015, 14:43:02
by Keith_McClary
CP Rail train derails in southwestern Alberta
The cars were carrying crude oil, no leaks or injuries reported
CBC News Posted: Feb 14, 2015
A Canadian Pacific Railway train carrying crude oil derailed in southwestern Alberta earlier today.

CP says the 12-car train was travelling westbound. All but two of the cars remained upright.

The Transportation Safety Board says there are no reports of leaks or injuries at the site near the community of Frank, in the Crowsnest Pass.

A spokesperson with TSB says the incident was first reported at 4:30 a.m.

CP is investigating.
2 km east of here (close to the coal train wreck a few years ago). No stopping allowed so I didn't get photos. CP already has lots of equipment and truckloads of track.

Strange that such a short train carrying crude would be going westbound here. The news report may be inaccurate. We have not been told that crude is shipped through here. We do see mixed trains with various tanker cars.

BTW, there was another coal train wreck a few km further east a few months ago.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 14 Feb 2015, 15:39:58
Chemicals via Rail - From Jan 2015: COLUMBIA, SC — About 19,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid and acid solutions spilled from rail cars that were damaged during a train wreck in rural Allendale County this week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has identified a sheen of contaminants on lower Three Runs Creek near the accident site, and clean up efforts are under way. Booms intended to soak up pollutants have been placed in both Lower Three Runs and in the Savannah River where the smaller creek empties out, DHEC said in an email Wednesday night. In addition to hydrochloric acid, up to 100 gallons of sodium hydroxide and 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in the train crash, according to DHEC. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is among the departments on the scene to help with the cleanup and assessment of damage.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Mon 16 Feb 2015, 18:44:20
by Keith_McClary
Another train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in Canada early Sunday, potentially putting pressure on the White House to accelerate its review of new regulations intended to improve the safety of hazardous rail shipments throughout North America.

The 100-car Canadian National train left the tracks in a remote part of Northern Ontario around midnight, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Sunday. Of the 29 cars that derailed, at least seven were on fire, the newspaper reported.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is sending investigators to the scene, but they likely will face difficulties assessing the damage because the area is not easily accessible, and the temperatures are well below zero. ... nites.html

No photos because it's in the middle of nowhere and I guess CN is not providing any. :lol:

Also, pasttense posted:

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 07 Mar 2015, 10:55:55
by Keith_McClary
Train carrying crude oil derails near Gogama, Ont.
This is the 4th train derailment in northern Ontario this year
CBC News Posted: Mar 07, 2015
A Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil has derailed near Gogama, Ont., forcing the closure of Highway 144.

Photos showing clouds of black smoke have been posted on social media, but officials have not released any details on the severity or cause of the derailment.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Fri 20 Mar 2015, 19:58:57
by Keith_McClary
We're getting quite a few oil trains lately, but no worries:

Fire/Rescue members to learn oil-by-rail firefighting

Two members of the Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue Department are heading to Pueblo, Colorado from March 16 to 18 for oil-by-rail firefighting training.
“This was in the works long before the train derailment,” said Stevens regarding the Feb. 14 derailment of 12 carloads of crude oil in Frank.
Deputy fire chief Curtis Stevens and Fire/Rescue member Daryl Johnson will be completing the three-day course along with many other firefighters from communities across Canada.
As a result of increasing volumes of crude oil shipments, the rail industry in North America developed a training program to prepare emergency responders in the event of an incident. The training costs between $4,000 and $5,000 per individual.
“The industry has decided to help fund the training because smaller municipal and volunteer fire services do not have the financial means to send individuals to this type of specialized program,” said Canadian Pacific Railway spokesperson Salem Woodrow
The course is called Crude by Rail Emergency Response. It covers the chemical and physical properties of different types of crude oil, tactical product control methods and environmental impacts. It then culminates in a full-scale derailment simulation.
When crude oil is burned it emits chemicals that can affect human health. These include lead, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds.
In 2014 CP sent 188 firefighters to the Security and Emergency Response Training Centre (SERTC) in Pueblo and plans to send another 120 in 2015. The SERTC is a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Wed 25 Mar 2015, 15:23:23
Bloomberg finally got off its ass and decided to do some real research and reporting. They even dug upsome useful info on the pipelinevs rail debate..."Behind The Keystone XL Smokescreen - Pipelines Are Booming!":

"Protesters, promoters and politicians continue to debate the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Keystone is the only project aiming to bring Canadian crude into the United States. But it’s not. Approximately 13,000 miles of new crude oil pipelines— ten times the length of Keystone XL— are being installed or proposed to go in service soon. Benefits of the so-called shale revolution, which has helped to increase domestic crude oil production by nearly 50% in just five years, cannot be fully realized until all that new oil can be delivered to the major refining centers and market hubs. Unfortunately, refining capacity tends to be located near where U.S. oil production used to be, rather than near today’s most prolific shale basins, such as North Dakota’s Bakken Shale and the Marcellus Shale, which runs through western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia."

{And pipelines vs rail} -" While it may look like pipelines are still being built the same way they were 50 years ago, improvements in pipeline fabrication, protective coatings, installation, as well as better inspection and maintenance processes make today’s pipelines safer than ever before. 2014 saw the lowest net barrels lost to spills in 20 years and no significant injuries or fatalities reported. This incredible record of safely and reliably transporting crude oil lies in large part on advances in technology, material science, and processes."

{Nothing Bloomberg has finally decided to report is new info. For years now I've repeated pointed out the ongoing dynamics which were repeated rejected by folks opposed to oil sand development. It was if by denying what was happening the development would stop. Obviously it didn't since Canada is exporting more oil to the US today then every before in history. And as I've also repeatedly made the point: Why would a dedicated oil patch hand be exposing the truth while dedicated "environmentalists kept trying to argue me down?

The first part is easy to answer: the Rockman (just like 99% of the US oil patch) is firmly opposed to oil sands production. And the motivation is simply a matter of self interest: the Canadian oil imports hurts our profits. As to why the "environmentalists" joined in with the "smoke screen" effort I still really don't have a good theory.}

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 11 Apr 2015, 00:18:29
by Keith_McClary
Darryl and Curtis are back from their course:
Learning to deal with ‘Crude by Rail’
Train derailments, including the recent one in the Crowsnest Pass, have turned the spotlight on rail transportation with respect to rail safety, emergency response planning and training of emergency responders.
Two officers of from our Crowsnest Pass Fire Rescue Department have recently returned from a course hosted at the Security and Emergency Response Center (affiliated with the Amercian Association of Railroads which CP Rail is a member) to better prepare our department for the future.
Deputy Chief Curtis Stevens and Captain Darryl Johnson recently returned from this three-day course in Pueblo, Colorado, which focused on dealing with crude oil transported by train.
"The name of the course was Crude by Rail," Stevens said of the course, which was paid for by CP. "It was an amazing course. CP Rail is committed to supporting the training of rural fire departments, on dealing with crude-rail derailments."
"We are very fortunate to have received the full support of CP Rail in sponsoring us to attend this course, said Johnson. "Our municipality did not have to cover any expenses directly related to the course."
Stevens said the course focused on the chemical makeup of the different kinds of crude oil and how to properly deal with them in case there is ever a rail accident here.
"H2S (hydrogen sulphide) is big risk, because there is H2S in it all the time. The course also covered the design of the tank cars so we can easily identify a crude tank car and understand the appropriate actions that need to be taken."
The practical component also dealt with Hazmat Hazardous Materials response and how to contain and respond to any leakage from tank cars.
"The course focused on the fundamentals of dealing with a crude oil tank car derailment and the initial things we can do before the CP Hazmat crew gets there."
"The course was a valuable opportunity to learn the technical and operational elements of emergency response (spills and fires) related to crude oil transport via rail," said Johnson. "Transport of crude oil by rail is nearly an everyday occurrence for us here in Crowsnest Pass. Being trained, and now able to train others in the Fire/Rescue Department, is an important part of our Municipal Emergency Response Plan."
There have been a number of derailments in the news recently, Stevens noted this could be directly related to an increase in train traffic and train size.
And as for the recent derailment here.
"It would have prepared us better to deal with that incident … completing the initial assessment, relaying appropriate information to CP Rail dispatchers as the ‘first responders’ to the accident scene, and of course setting up the scene response activities safely," said Stevens.
"Based on the training we have now received, our assessment of our response actions at the time were appropriate and were done safely. We had the right people in place and set up our scene operations effectively."

I'm not sure how much this will help us if an oil train derails and catches fire next to main street.
The track runs parallel to main street, about 50 metres to the right from the image.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Sat 11 Apr 2015, 21:12:41
Better late then never for locals to catch up on hazmat training. For decades much more dangerous cargos have been rolling thru those same town.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Tue 10 Jan 2017, 13:02:20
by Subjectivist
Plantagenet wrote:In fact, extending the railroad system eastward has already begun in Alaska

northern rail expansion---phase one

New Alaska RR bridge now being built to extend Alaska RR to the east.


Alaskans have long wanted a rail link to Canada and the lower 48. The possibility of shipping Canadian oil to Asia through Alaska is just another component in the planning for such a rail link. 8)

Hey Plantaganet I was looking for information on the Alaska Railroad expansion project but the most recent news item I could find is from 2014 and says they ran outof budget money and phase 2 is on hold.

How is phase 1 working and are there any plans yet on proceeding with the expansion? It has always been a dream to take the railroad in Alaska but it isn't a very long trip just going from Seward to Fairbanks and back. Do you think the proposal to link up ith Canadian Railways will ever get built?

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Wed 11 Jan 2017, 16:42:31
by Zarquon
Reading these old posts I wonder *why* so many trains in the US/Canada derail in the first place. Everybody seems to focus on the danger of using old tanker cars, but if hit hard enough the newer ones seem to explode just fine, too.

I couldn't find any comprehensive derailment numbers, but it seems North America, esp. the US, runs its trains mostly on pretty ancient tracks. On top of that automatic safety systems that have been introduced in Europe a long time ago, and are now mandatory, are not or rarely installed in the US (most news articles deal with passenger trains but AFAIK the equipment is mandatory on freight trains, too): ... -railways/
"A [passenger train] crash like the one in Philadelphia would have been virtually inconceivable in the EU, where most trains have Automatic Train Protection (known as Positive Train Control in the US) installed. This system restricts a train’s speed, or automatically applies emergency brakes, if the stipulated line speed is exceeded. The locomotive involved in the Philadelphia crash had the necessary protection system installed, but the track section did not, despite a 2008 Congressional decision to mandate its installation.

That is not to say Europe is perfect in this regard — the 2010 Halle crash in Belgium and the devastating 2013 Santiago de Compostela accident were both at least in part due the Automatic Train Protection not being installed. The EU is rolling out a standardized train protection system known as ETCS to replace the patchwork of national systems within Europe. These systems do not come cheap though — estimates to apply the system to all of the USA’s major lines range between $5.5 billion (€4.96 billion) to over $20 billion (€18 billion)."

BTW, is it possible that the crude in these crashes had been blended with condensate prior to shipping? Wouldn't that increase the risk?

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Wed 11 Jan 2017, 19:05:49
by Subjectivist
The difference is in Europe rail is a state owned or operated enterprise while in America everything but Amtrak is privately owned operated and maintained. Once the accountants took over American business in the late 1970's money for maintenence went to the minimum.

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Wed 11 Jan 2017, 20:39:53
"...the danger of using old tanker cars, but if hit hard enough the newer ones seem to explode just fine, too."

You may be aware but there was evidence that it wasn't so much the nature of the tank cars but related to the change in the volitity of the oil being transported. A variety of pdf's on the subject out therel. Such as:

Why Crude Oil Vapor Pressure Should Be Tested Prior to Rail Transport

H Pichler, J Lutz - Advances in Petroleum Exploration and …, 2014 -

Abstract Recent crude oil rail car accidents have forced US and Canadian authorities to issue Emergency Testing Orders to ensure safe transportation of crude oils. One crucial parameter in meeting these safety requirements is the testing of the vapor pressure (VP) of...

Re: Oil via rail

Unread postPosted: Fri 13 Jan 2017, 19:11:55
by hvacman
The first part is easy to answer: the Rockman (just like 99% of the US oil patch) is firmly opposed to oil sands production. And the motivation is simply a matter of self interest: the Canadian oil imports hurts our profits. As to why the "environmentalists" joined in with the "smoke screen" effort I still really don't have a good theory.}

RM - But it is elementary, Mr. Rockman. You must use Environmentalist Logic, applying the Environmentalist Prime Postulate:

Fact #1: Rockman says: "Even without XL pipeline, Canadian tar sands oil imports already flow into the US and will continue to flow. And Canadian tar sands flow to the US hurts our business and we US oil men want that flow to stop, too, but stopping the XL pipe line will not change that situation."

Fact #2: As stated above, Rockman is an oil man.

The Environmentalist Prime Postulate: "Oil men always lie".

Applying the postulate to fact #2 produces the (to the Environmentalist) true statement:

"Rockman is an oil man, therefore Rockman is lying."

Which takes the Environmentalist to the "logical" conclusion: "Therefore Rockman and all US oil men want the XL pipeline and stopping XL will stop tar sands oil flowing to the US".