$3.7B to move oil by rail

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg

Notley described the plan as a "medium-term strategy" for getting crude to market, since Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, if approved, isn't expected to be operational for at least three years.

The latest National Energy Board data shows Canadian oil-by-rail exports hit new all-time highs of 330,402 bpd in November 2018, compared with 148,311 bpd at the same time a year earlier.

CBR (crude-by-rail) shipments of 20,000 barrels per day are expected to commence in July and grow to 120,000 barrels per day by mid-2020. The rest will be DOT-117R cars retrofitted to meet some DOT-117J standards, but a type that BNSF Railway Co is phasing out after a derailment in Iowa a year ago.

Shipments of grain should not be disrupted by increased oil traffic on the railroads, Notley said.

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She said Tuesday she's not happy there has been no firm response, especially since an uplift in Alberta crude prices would boost Ottawa's revenues, too. "You can let the commercial deals work and let commerce take place and the deals will drive right good business decisions and investment decisions", Creel said, adding that the moves caused "uncertainty".

That curtailment order narrowed the discount for Western Canada Select heavy oil blends to drop from more than US$40 per barrel to less than US$10 per barrel, which is below the threshold necessary for oil producers to justify the cost of shipping their barrels on trains.

Instead of purchasing trains, the government will buy rail service from Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway to ship crude oil to market with pending destinations including global markets and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Premier Rachel Notley is scheduled to release an update at 1:00 pm MDT.

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The NDP government announced the multibillion-dollar, three-year investment despite the possibility an election could be called any day.

The Alberta government will lease 4,400 rail cars to move oil out of the province, resulting in 120,000 barrels per day by mid-2020, Premier Rachel Notley announced Tuesday afternoon as part of the crude-by-rail strategy.

"So the government steps in, we didn't like it at all", said Keith Creel, speaking at a conference in Miami on Wednesday.

"This is government-by-improvisation and I think it exposes us taxpayers to serious risk by a government trying to spend like drunken sailors while they're probably on their way out the door".

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