Rail on the fast track to ship Bakken oil to market
A surge in crude oil production from the Bakken formation has exacerbated a bottleneck at the Midwest oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma. A decade ago, few outside the oil and gas industry had ever heard of the Bakken shale play, which encompasses North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
But production from the U.S. portion of the formation crossed the 500,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) threshold in 2011. With pipeline capacity leaving the region still constrained, producers are turning to rail.
The growth is stunning. In 2010, there was capacity to ship 130,000 bpd of Bakken crude by rail. By 2011, that total had risen to 375,000 bpd. Platts Energy predicts that by 2013, there will be enough rail terminals in place to ship 835,000 bpd.
What follows are the companies, locations and shipping capacities of seven terminals that are either being expanded or built from scratch to transport the most Bakken crude to market.
Source: Platts and the North Dakota Pipeline Authority