Shipments of Oil By Rail: Economic Implications for Safety and Safety-Related Investments

University  University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)
Principal Investigators  Eric Thompson, Associate Professor of Economics (PI)
Aemal Khattak, PhD., Civil Engineering (Co-PI)
PI Contact Information  CBA 347
Lincoln NE 68588-0406
Office (402) 472-3318 
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)  UTCRS (USDOT UTC Program): $71,645
NE Department of Roads: $38,005
Total Project Cost  $109,650
Agency ID or Contract Number  DTRT13-G-UTC59
Start and End Dates October 2016 - June 2018
Brief Description of Research Project  Fracking technology has allowed for significant expansion of oil production in regions with limited oil pipeline capacity, such as the Bakken formation in North Dakota. These regions must compensate for the increase in oil production by expanding oil by rail shipments, specifically utilizing tanker cars. However, oil by rail shipments to the Eastern and Southern United States had declined in recent years. The present study utilizes U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts of Bakken oil production and oil by rail shipments through the year 2040. A linear programming model was developed to estimate the volume of state-to-state oil by rail shipments by analyzing release incident rates. In addition, the present study assesses the growth of rail release incident costs and explores how changes in release incident costs impact the economic feasibility of rail-related safety investments. The data implied a positive correlation between oil production and oil by rail shipments. Annual release incidents costs for hauling oil by rail will rise significantly in the future due to projected increases in oil production and rising release incident rates.
Keywords oil by rail, accident severity, safety investments
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Place Any Photos Here See Report.
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) See Report.
Project Website