Lorne Stockman, Oil Change International,, 540-679-1097
David Turnbull, Oil Change International,, 202-316-3499
Gabby Brown, New Partners,, 202-261-2382

New Report: Rail won’t solve tar sands industry’s market access problem

A report published today by Oil Change International presents new analysis that confirms that shipping tar sands bitumen by rail cannot possibly meet the tar sands industry’s reckless production growth plans. The report’s conclusions demonstrate that the U.S. Department of State’s analysis of rail’s ability to replace the Keystone XL pipeline failed to consider key data and evidence, and drew conclusions that are both misleading and dangerous for the American public.

The report, entitled “Wrong Side of the Tracks: Why Rail is not the Answer to the Tar Sands Market Access Problem,” refutes claims by the industry that rail has the potential to replace pipelines as a viable means of transporting tar sands crude oil to market.  The conclusion is clear: stopping tar sands pipelines will result in tar sands bitumen being left in the ground and carbon emissions avoided.

The report can be found at:

“With communities across the continent stopping tar sands pipeline proposals left and right, the industry is grasping at straws to show it remains a good investment. This report shows that their hope for salvation on the railways is simply a pipe dream,” said Lorne Stockman, Research Director of Oil Change International and author of the report.

The analysis finds that shipping bitumen to the Gulf Coast by rail has been losing money for much of 2014 and only shipments tied to long-term contracts have made the 3,000 mile journey. In the first five months of 2014, tar sands by rail to the Gulf Coast accounted for less than 6 percent of the capacity that Keystone XL would provide, and total tar sands imports to the U.S. by rail were only 3 percent of the total capacity needed to accommodate planned Canadian oil production growth.

The report details a long list of headwinds faced by the bitumen-by-rail trade that include the complex logistics of avoiding diluent costs, depressed crude oil prices on the Gulf Coast and unreliable service that is vulnerable to severe weather, congestion and rising costs.

“The simple fact is that a combination of high costs and poor returns is working against bitumen-by-rail being anything more than a niche activity. Despite what the industry may say, rail won’t solve the tar sands industry’s transportation crisis,” concluded Stockman.

The report and further information on crude-by-rail can be found at