Is Alberta Oil Really Going To Generate More Than 100,000 Rail Cars Loads of Oil in 2019?

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In a word, yes.  While conventional oil production in Alberta has been at the same level for years, Alberta’s oil sands have hit yet another production record and the oil will move one way or another.

As you can see in the chart below, Canada is out of pipeline capacity so that leaves, truck and rail.

gmp-firstenergy-canadian-oil-pipeline-utilization-2004-2018

On October 18, 2018 the CEO of CP Rail said he expects to “match or exceed its record 2014 pace of 110,000 crude carloads next year (2019)”.  Reputable news outlets like the Daily Oil Bulletin regularly report expectations of more than 110,000 rail car loads in 2019.

Statistics Canada provides the following chart showing how Canadian oil, mostly from the Oil Sands, are being transported to market by rail.

Let’s do some basic math.  It costs about USD$20/barrel to transport Alberta oil to US markets.  If we assume (and to be clear, this is just a guess), that half of that cost goes to various interim storage and tanker trucks at each end, that leaves USD$10/ barrel to the rail companies.  A typical rail oil car transports about 700 barrels so that would make each oil rail tanker worth about USD$7000 in rail costs from Canada to Texas.   We already stated that Canada will ship over 100,000 rail cars full of oil in 2019 which would result in nearly three quarters of a BILLION dollars in revenue to Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CN).

There have been those that say/hope Alberta Oil production will flatten out if they block pipelines, but the fact is that the demand for oil will be met.  In the video below from October of 2018, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley recently explained that If pipelines are not available, rail and trucks will be used:

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