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Crude-by-rail exports fall by 43 per cent to 111,900 bpd in February, says regulator

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 1:18 pm MDT

Canadian exports of crude oil by rail fell to an eight-year low in June as North American fuel demand remained low due to measures taken to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CALGARY — The Canada Energy Regulator says Canadian crude-by-rail exports fell by 43 per cent in February compared with the previous month.

It says lower oil production and strong prices in Canada compared with U.S. benchmarks, along with the impact of the polar vortex cold weather event on southern U.S. refineries, meant fewer shippers elected to send their barrels by rail.

A total of 111,900 barrels per day were exported by rail in February, down from 195,500 in January.

Crude-by-rail numbers have been volatile in the past few years, with shipments rising to a record 412,000 bpd in February 2020, then falling to an eight-year low of 39,000 bpd last July.

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 total oil exports from Canada in February were 3.72 million barrels per day, down from 3.88 million bpd in January and 4.1 million bpd in February 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press