CN Rail CFO says no infrastructure, no support for oil-by-rail to the west coast

Oil-by-rail won't be happening any time soon, according to the chief financial officer of CN Rail.

Oil-by-rail won’t be happening any time soon, according to the chief financial officer of CN Rail.

Luc Jobin, who is CFO and executive vice-president, made the comments after being asked about shipping crude to a B.C.port for export during the company’s Oct. 22 earnings call.

“There’s no project. There’s no infrastructure on the Canadian west coast to receive crude by rail. There is no project proponent. There’s really no support,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s in a kind of a near-term type of potential.”

However, CN CEO Claude Mongeau said oil-by-rail is a viable alternative and a part of CN’s business.

“We move more than 99.997 per cent of dangerous goods to market without incidents and we have to keep getting better. And if we do, I believe we are a viable alternative to move all the energy projects — products, including crude,” he said, noting both heavy and light crude is currently being moved.

“We believe this is there to stay with us, as long as we continue to operate a safe railroad, which we are committed to do.”

In September, a government briefing note obtained by Greenpeace indicated Nexen was working with CN and the Prince Rupert Port Authority “to select lands in Prince Rupert that could be used for the export of oil” and just last week the provincial governments of both B.C. And Alberta signed a terms of reference agreement indicating “if pipelines are not developed, rail will step into the void to deliver bitumen to the West Coast”.