New Rail Charges Could Cost Shippers Millions


Major changes in how railroads handle the movement of empty privately owned tank cars could add millions of dollars annually to the cost of shipping any commodity in tank cars, including crude oil. In December 2014, the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) announced that effective January 1, 2015, it would begin assessing mileage-based charges upon certain movements of empty private tank cars to and from repair facilities. BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) announced in a January 30 press release that it would follow UP’s lead by assessing similar charges effective March 1, 2015. Both railroads previously provided this service free of charge.
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Liability Under Federal Environmental Law for Crude Oil Spills from Rail Cars

More crude oil was spilled from rail cars last year than in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills in 1975. According to data compiled by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013. By comparison, from 1975 to 2012, 800,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars.
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Three Bills Pending in California Address Water Use Reporting; Oil Spills and Rail Transportation


Three bills pending in the California legislature have the potential to significantly impact oil and gas operations in the State. SB 1281 would impose water use limitations and reporting requirements on production operations. Two additional bills, SB 1319 and AB 2678, address oil spill response and oversight, and rail transportation. If passed, these bills would impose new restrictions on California oil and gas operations.
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The Hidden Issues in Crude-by-Rail Contracting


At first blush, a rail transportation contract for shipping crude oil appears like any other commercial contract negotiation. But scratch just beneath the surface and you will find all sorts of terms, phrases and industry practices that create pitfalls for the unwary. This article identifies the most common issues any crude oil shipper should know about.
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