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California’s Oil-By-Rail Imports Climb Near Record In 2018

Rail sunset

California imported an average 447,063 barrels of crude oil by rail over the first nine months of last year, the latest data available from the California Supply Analysis Office has revealed, as reported by S&P Global Platts.

The jump, according to S&P Global Platts, was driven by increased overall exports from New Mexico, Wyoming, and Canada, California’s three oil-by-rail suppliers. The increase was most marked in Canadian crude imports: these jumped from 116,000 bpd at the start of 2018 to 275,000 bpd at the end of September. Oil-by-rail imports from New Mexico also rose considerably, from 80,000 last January to 207,000 bpd in September, while imports from Wyoming remained steady, the data showed.

California has made a name for itself as a poster state for renewable energy but state data suggests it is still a major consumer of crude oil, both by rail and by maritime transport. In September last year, data from the California Energy Commission revealed that California has not become less reliant on crude oil despite the shift towards renewable energy.

Related: Oil And Gas See Regulatory Windfall Under Trump

In fact, it seems the state refines as much oil today as it did back in 1982, but with one marked difference: 30 years ago, most of the oil California refineries processed came from local fields. Now, more than half comes from abroad—56.66 percent—versus 31 percent local California oil in 2017.

What’s more, the biggest foreign source of crude oil for California was Saudi Arabia, accounting for 29 percent of imports, or 98.13 million barrels. Second from the top was Ecuador, accounting for 20 percent of the state’s crude oil imports, and third was Colombia, with 14.16 percent of the total, per the state’s Energy Commission.

Despite its demand for oil, the California government seems to be dead set against any local production. Last September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that aimed to discourage oil companies from taking advantage from the opening up of federal lands in California to drilling by effectively banning infrastructure necessary for offshore drilling, including docks, pipelines, and other onshore installations.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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