Dear Valued Visitor,

We have noticed that you are using an ad blocker software.

Although advertisements on the web pages may degrade your experience, our business certainly depends on them and we can only keep providing you high-quality research based articles as long as we can display ads on our pages.

To view this article, you can disable your ad blocker and refresh this page or simply login.

We only allow registered users to use ad blockers. You can sign up for free by clicking here or you can login if you are already a member.

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (USA) (CP), TransCanada Corporation (USA) (TRP): Hazards of Oil Transportation Highlighted by Recent Explosion

This weekend’s horrific railcar explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, has drawn sudden attention to the rapidly expanding use of railcars to transport crude oil from where it’s extracted to where it’s refined. In the vitriolic tug-of-war over TransCanada Corporation (USA) (NYSE:TRP)‘s Keystone XL pipeline, many have asserted that rail is a viable alternative to the pipeline if President Obama smacks it down. But as accidents continue to increase in number, crude by rail may be losing its luster.

TransCanada Corporation

Crude-by-rail growth
It would be hard to overstate the massive growth in crude-by-rail transport. The State Department predicts that Bakken Shale oil shipments will exceed 800,000 barrels per day by the end of this year, up tenfold since August 2011. While moving crude out of North Dakota has been the primary expansion area for rail transport, trains are also playing an increasingly important role in moving oil from Canada’s tar sands.

This dramatic expansion has brought with it a series of high-profile accidents, many of them on Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (USA) (NYSE:CP)‘s network. Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (USA) (NYSE:CP) moves oil from Alberta’s tar sands and the Bakken Shale. It saw the industry’s first major spill this past March, when 14 derailed tanker cars gushed 15,000 gallons of crude all over the surrounding landscape. The investigation is ongoing, and the company is tight-lipped on the subject.

The stakes are high. As coal’s demise has cost many rail operators a major source of revenue, crude by rail is becoming a small but increasingly important business for such players as Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (USA) (NYSE:CP) and BNSF, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A). And Continental Resources, Inc. (NYSE:CLR), one of the pioneer Bakken developers, moves three-quarters of its production by train.

Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO) has a crude-by-rail proposal pending at its Benicia, Calif., facility. The project was already seeing growing community backlash before this weekend’s explosion, but will now likely face much stronger scrutiny at its July 11 city council hearing.

It’s too early to tell what the likely ramifications of this disaster will be. It would be easy to conclude that this is good news for Keystone XL. However, President Obama has said that the pipeline is only in our national interest if it doesn’t “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” which of course it does.

Furthermore, it’s not necessarily the case that pipelines are safer. While they are less prone to accidents, vastly more oil leaks from a pipeline when it’s compromised than from a rail car.

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT: Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks

Let Warren Buffett, George Soros, Steve Cohen, and Daniel Loeb WORK FOR YOU.

If you want to beat the low cost index funds by 19 percentage points per year, look no further than our monthly newsletter.In this free report you can find an in-depth analysis of the performance of Warren Buffett's entire historical stock picks. We uncovered Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks and a way to for Buffett to improve his returns by more than 4 percentage points per year.

Bonus Biotech Stock Pick: You can also find a detailed bonus biotech stock pick that we expect to return more than 50% within 12 months.
Subscribe me to Insider Monkey's Free Daily Newsletter
This is a FREE report from Insider Monkey. Credit Card is NOT required.