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As West Coast production falls, more crude oil is being shipped by rail

Crude oil shipped to West Coast refiners has increased by a factor of 8 since 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In the first quarter of 2015, crude by rail shipments to the West Coast Region (PADD 5) averaged 191 MBOPD, more than 8 times higher than the 23 MBOPD averaged throughout 2012.

No major oil lines connect refiners in the West Coast with other parts of the country, making rail a major source of imported crude, especially as PADD 5 production continues its downward trend. From 2010 to 2014, West Coast production fell 100 MBOPD, according to the EIA.

Approximately 90% of the crude being shipped to the West Coast in 2014 was Bakken crude oil, but the amounts coming from other regions has been increasing rapidly. Shipments from the Gulf Coast tripled from 2013 to 2014, while crude from the Rocky Mountain region quintupled. Data from the California Energy Commission indicates that much of the crude received from other PADDs by rail comes from Utah and Wyoming.

crude by rail

While there has been a tremendous rise in the amounts of crude oil shipped to the West Coast by rail, much of the regions imported crude oil comes from foreign sources, reports the EIA. Over the past five years, crude oil imports of foreign crude have averaged 1.1 MMBOPD.


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