A Canadian National Railway Co. (NYSE: CNI) derailed and four cars carrying crude oil and nine cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) caught fire about 50 miles west of Edmonton, Alberta, early Saturday morning. No injuries have been reported. The 100 people living in the town of Gainford were all evacuated as a precaution.
In early July a 72-car train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and levelling the town’s central business district. The derailed train in Alberta was hauling crude and LPG to terminals Vancouver, British Columbia.
Moving crude oil and other petroleum products by rail has boomed in the past few years due to a lack of pipelines in the Bakken shale play in North Dakota and Montana. Crude production in the Bakken rose to more than 900,000 barrels a day this past August, less than a third of which is transported by pipeline.
According to a report from the AP, U.S. railroads have moved 178,000 carloads of crude oil in the first six months of 2013, double the number during the same period last year and 33 times more than during the same period in 2009. The Railway Association of Canada estimates that as many as 140,000 carloads of crude oil will be shipped on Canada’s tracks this year, up from 500 carloads in 2009.