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US Crude-by-Rail Movements Keep Falling: MLP Impact

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US crude-by-rail movements

According to a monthly report published by the EIA (Energy Information Administration) on June 30, movement of crude oil by rail in the United States, including imports from Canada, fell 25.1% month-over-month to 12.8 MMbbl (million barrels) by the end of April 2016. Except for March, crude oil movements by rail have continued to decline over the past six months. The movement of crude oil by rail in the United States has decreased 40.6% since the beginning of 2016.

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Regional breakdown

The US West Coast and East Coast are the major recipients of crude oil by rail. The US west coast, which has low crude oil pipeline connectivity, meets its crude oil demand through rail and imports from Canada. Shipments to the US West Coast fell to 5.19 MMBbl in April 2016 compared to 7.45 MMBbl in March 2016. Similarly, the US East coast saw a 2.3% month-over-month decline in crude oil movements by rail. The US Midwest region, which is the major supplier of crude oil by rail, saw a 30.2% month-over-month decline in crude oil shipments by rail. The decline in crude oil shipments to the West Coast could be due to growing crude oil inventories in the region. Crude oil inventories in the region peaked to 59.1 MMBbl in March 2016.

Impact on MLPs

The decline in crude oil movements by rail negatively impacts midstream MLPs, including Crestwood Equity Partners (CEQP), Tesoro Logistics Partners (TLLP), Phillips 66 Partners (PSXP), Enterprise Product Partners (EPD), and Genesis Energy (GEL).

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