As the amount of oil production from Colorado’s Niobrara field north of Denver has skyrocketed in the last few years, pipeline and railroad companies that specialize in shipping oil out of the region have scrambled to keep up.
Pipeline capacity out of the Rocky Mountain region has grown, but oil and gas companies — pressed by time and money — have increasingly turned to shipping the newly pumped crude oil to market by rail.
It’s faster and cheaper to build new crude-by-rail terminals to unload crude oil from trucks and onto rail cars for shipment than to plan and build new pipelines.
That’s led to the amount of oil shipped out of a five-state Rocky Mountain region that includes Colorado jumping an astonishing 33,800 percent over the last five years, according to a new report f rom the federal Energy Information Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.
In raw numbers, the EIA said that in 2010 just 359 barrels per day of oil was shipped by rail out of the Rocky Mountain region — all of it heading for the Gulf Coast, according to the report. The four states in what’s known as “PADD 4” are Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Idaho.
By April 2015, that number had jumped to 122,000 barrels per day leaving the region by rail, the EIA said.
About 19 percent of the region’s production, or one in five barrels of oil produced in the region, is shipped to market by rail, the report said.