Oil sands transport options advance on two political fronts

Political forces are aligning in Canada toward a vital debottlenecking of the oil sands. With the border crossing of the Keystone XL pipeline awaiting approval that probably won’t come from the US government, provincial and federal governments in Canada have made progress on alternatives. Without new capacity to move petroleum out of landlocked Alberta, production will face physical constraint within a couple of years. Rail and trucking capacities have increased impressively and offer immediate relief and flexibility. But they’re costlier ways to move oil than pipelines are. Because extra transportation costs erode the wellhead value of production, operators in the bountiful oil sands nee...

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