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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF boosts capacity in Williston Basin


BNSF Railway Co. has increased capacity in the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana to the point the railroad now can haul 1 million barrels of crude oil out of the region daily, officials at the Class I announced yesterday.

The additional capacity will allow the energy industry to continue its record expansion of oil production in the basin despite a shortage of available pipelines, as well as ship oil to markets throughout the United States, BNSF officials said in a prepared statement. In addition, the capacity bump will help shippers better transport other commodities, such as agricultural products, they said.

This year, BNSF plans to spend $197 million on capacity projects in North Dakota and Montana, including 2,188 miles of track surfacing, two new inspection tracks, track raising work at Devil’s Lake, the replacement of 121 miles of rail and 332,000 ties, signal upgrades and equipment acquisitions.

Since 2011, the railroad has hired more than 560 people to fill existing and newly created positions in the two states. BNSF also formed a dedicated Unit Energy Desk that works directly with customers to help coordinate and plan unit train movements to and from the basin.

The railroad continues to work with customers to add signals and sidings, identify and develop optimal routes, and increase train sizes from 100 to 104 tank cars, or up to 118 cars in some cases, BNSF officials said. In the basin, the Class I serves eight originating terminals, and two more are scheduled to be completed by year’s end.

“BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years. In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012,” said Dave Garin, group vice president-industrial products.