In my blog last week, I wrote about the onshore boom from shale production and its effect on new railcar and tank barge construction.
In his April column in WorkBoat, Kevin Horn elaborated a bit on the impact from this energy renaissance. He wrote how the recent increase in rail tank car movements of crude oil is a “remarkable break with tradition.” BNSF Railway, which currently handles the largest volume of North Dakota Bakken shale oil shipments, said it has ordered 5,000 state-of-the-art rail tank cars. These new tank cars that are designed for increased safety for domestic oil shipments are considered specialized equipment that traditionally has been provided by shippers.
The move by BNSF into specialized tank-car ownership, Horn wrote, suggests that BNSF is bullish in the long term on this market. Also, oil refiners, particularly on the East Coast who refine crude oil from North Dakota, have also been investing in new tank railcars.
Though some are concerned that this oil-related tank barge building boom will slow after this year, the barge industry is well positioned to move domestic crude. To do this, you must have the right equipment in place at the right time.