NEB Report: Optimizing Oil Pipeline and Rail Capacity out of Western Canada

According to the report, increase in pipeline or railway capacity should come from new major infrastructure projects due to current pipelines being fully utilized and operating near capacity.

NEB Report: Optimizing Oil Pipeline and Rail Capacity out of Western Canada

According to the NEB:

"In the short-term, market issues could be improved by:

  • Creating predictable timelines and clear policies related to pipeline capacity to help market participants make more informed decisions.

  • Developing better market data to help market participants and policy makers make investment decisions.

Potential long-term solutions in the absence of new pipeline capacity could include:

  • Upgrade bitumen to a higher quality product to reduce the volume of diluent needed and open up space on existing pipelines.

  • Reverse pipelines currently importing diluent to export more crude oil.

  • Ship undiluted bitumen in rail cars to increase the volume of bitumen exported by rail.

Long-term investment and large infrastructure changes would be needed to implement some of these solutions; they may also become uneconomic if and when new pipeline capacity comes online.


Moving crude by rail is a more complex process than moving crude by pipeline and is not a perfect substitute for additional pipeline capacity."


Source: NEB

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