NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - Oil-by-rail shipments via a dozen major loading terminals in the Bakken region in North Dakota rose again on Monday after running at unusually low rates last week following new U.S. testing and shipping regulations, Genscape data showed on Tuesday.
A total of 688,425 barrels of crude was loaded at 11 terminals on Monday, up from 665,000 on Sunday and more than double the average rate of the four days proceeding Sunday, according to an assessment by industry intelligence group Genscape, which uses cameras to count the number of tank cars loaded at major terminals.
In the two weeks prior to Tuesday’s emergency order imposing new oil testing rules, shipments had been running at about 550,000 barrels per day (bpd), on average. But in the four days following the order, shipments dropped to some 312,000 bpd. On Friday and Saturday, an average of 280,000 barrels was loaded.
“Over last week, Bakken rail loadings averaged 470,692 bpd, their lowest average level since the week ending Sept. 13 last year. This constitutes a 103,093 bpd week-on-week decline, a fall of just below 18 percent,” Genscape analysts said in their weekly PetroRail Report.
They said factors apart from regulation had also affected loading rates, including severe cold weather that has slowed traffic and caused congestion in the Midwest.
Oil traders were on high alert for any sign that tougher rules on shipping Bakken’s light crude by rail could slow supplies out of the booming region, where existing pipelines are unable to keep pace with rising production.
U.S. regulators denied a rumor on Friday that unannounced inspections across the region had forced terminals to shut down. The Genscape data showed all of the dozen terminals it monitors have loaded at least one cargo since Feb. 26.
Genscape’s report also showed that NuStar’s oil-by-rail offloading terminal in St. James, Louisiana, handled 132,000 bpd of crude last week, the highest since it began monitoring the facility, one of the largest on the Gulf Coast.