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Canadian crude-by-rail exports fall slightly in October to 92,800 barrels per day

Last Updated Dec 22, 2020 at 11:05 am MDT

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. January 2020 crude-by-rail numbers have reached a historic high of 403,767 barrels per day, the first time Canadian crude oil exports by rail have surpassed the 400,000 mark. This represents a 16 per cent increase over December 2019 rail export numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CALGARY — Canadian exports of crude oil by rail fell only slightly in October from September, a rare period of stability in a year that’s included a record high month as well as one that saw an eight-year low.

The Canada Energy Regulator says rail shipments of oil in October amounted to 92,800 barrels per day, down from 94,440 bpd shipped in September, but off by two-thirds from 270,000 bpd in October 2019.

Only 39,000 bpd were shipped in July, an eight-year low that was less than a tenth of the record 412,000 bpd moved by rail in February.

Rail transportation of crude oil is considered to be more expensive than shipping by pipeline so shippers tend to use it only when pipelines are full or if the destination market offers much higher prices than can be achieved in Canada.

The CER says the lower use of rail reflects changes in supply and demand balances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall crude oil exports in October came to 3.58 million bpd, up from 3.37 million bpd in September, and down from 3.69 million bpd in October of last year, the CER reported.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press