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Queen's University

School of Policy Studies

Oil by Rail: If we want better rules, we need better data

Thursday, January 16, 2014

OpEd by  Professor Robert Wolfe  and MPA student Musfiq Islam on the movement of crude oil across Canada in Thursday's Globe and Mail.

"How much crude is moving by rail in Canada, of what kind, and where is it going? One story [] in The Globe about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy claimed that “Over the past five years, oil shipments by rail had increased by 28,000 per cent across Canada, from 500 to 140,000 carloads a year.” Other stories cite different numbers, always making strong claims about the increase in shipments of crude." 

Given the limited evidence, however, all the claims are misleading. The 2008 number may be right, but the 2013 number is certainly too high. It includes other petroleum products besides crude, as well as both heavy crude moving from Alberta to U.S. refineries and highly volatile light crude from the Bakken field in North Dakota moving to Atlantic Canadian refineries, principally the Irving facility in St. John, New Brunswick.

Read the complete OpEd


School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020