The capacity increase "will allow the energy industry to continue the record expansion of oil production in the Williston Basin and to ship the new production to markets throughout the U.S. It will also benefit shippers of other commodities, including agricultural products," the Class I carrier said.
"Historically, oil and gas producers have used pipelines to transport crude from production to refineries and ultimately on to end users," said John Lanigan, BNSF executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Because this shale development growth came about so quickly, there has been a shortage of pipeline capacity to deliver production from new unconventional sources to coastal refiners. BNSF has responded quickly to enable producers to move crude to the most attractive markets and secure the best prices."
BNSF says it has 1,000 miles of rail line in the Williston Basin area and serves eight originating terminals, with two more scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. The carrier also connects 'to 16 of the top 19 oil producing counties in Central and Western North Dakota, and five of the six oil producing counties in eastern Montana," it said.
"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%, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012," said Dave Garin, BNSF group vice president, Industrial Products. "We see this trend continuing and we are committed to serving this growing market now and in the future."
Among numerous efficiency improvements, BNSF cites efforts to increase capacity on routes into and out of the Williston Basin, including "working with our customers to increase train sizes from 100 to 104 tank cars and in some cases up to 118 tank cars, adding signalization and sidings along key routes, and identifying and developing the most efficient routes.
The Bakken Shale oil field, which stretches down from Canada into North Dakota and Montana, could hold more 4 billion barrels of oil reserves, according to oilshalegas.com.