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  • Excess of rail tank cars?

    Kind of a off the wall question....

    Yesterday went for a drive to a neighboring small town in E ND to look at something. I've not been there in several years at least. Along the way, there is a seldom used rail line and there were literally miles of tank cars setting on it. That line goes to a dead end (at one time went into Fargo, tracks pulled up decades ago) and these cars were sitting from about a mile from the end extending several miles down. In recent years, the only time those rails have been used was to ship grain from the town I live in but urbanization is overtaking so I don't think I've seen any use for the grain terminal for a couple of years anymore and fully expect it to be on a short list in the near future.

    Obviously wondered what all these parked cars is all about and there must be a "glut" of tank cars right now for whatever reason. I didn't get close enough to tell if these were the sort that oil gets transported on or not. At one time a few years ago, a lot of oil from Western ND was going via tank cars through Fargo and then points south and east. Not sure if that is still the case.

    EDIT:

    I wonder if this almost 1 yr old article may explain it....

    Overflowing Oil Tanks Have Traders Eyeing Rail Cars for Storage - Bloomberg






    Last edited by Jeff_H; 03-22-2021, 10:58 AM.

    Jeff in ND

  • #2
    I think the oil demand has an ebb and flow. With many people still locked down and many working from home, the oil demand is probably in an ebb situation.

    It is MUCH cheaper to store cars on a dead rail than it is to scrap them and then hurry up and build more when demand for oil increases.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    • #3
      Shown are oil tanker cars. Did the tanker cars in question look like these?
      sigpic
      In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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      • #4
        Not sure Brent, I was not close enough. But, from the distance they sure could have been. They were dark and had caps on the top like the photo, so very likely. They sure were not box cars or those open cars that scrap metal hauls in or coal cars. Rounded ends for sure.

        Jeff in ND

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Milaca View Post
          Shown are oil tanker cars. Did the tanker cars in question look like these?
          Brent, what city is that in the background?
          RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

          17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
          10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
          10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
          4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
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          56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
          60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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          • #6
            As a result of the 2013 Lac Megantic, PQ rail disaster and fire, both the US and Canadian safety boards have prohibited the shipment of high volatility petroleum products in the older-design DOT-111 tank cars. The newer DOT-117 cars with stronger ends, thermal jackets, and pressure-release valves are still allowed to carry these chemicals. As a result, most older cars are being used for oil storage, for carrying less-flammable products, and/or waiting to be scrapped. Not sure this is the sole reason for what you're seeing, but it's a possible contributor.
            Last edited by Skip Lackie; 03-23-2021, 02:59 AM.
            Skip Lackie

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post

              Brent, what city is that in the background?
              Looks like a pretty familiar arch on the horizon, Roy.

              "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

              Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
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              • #8
                Originally posted by rockne10 View Post
                Looks like a pretty familiar arch on the horizon, Roy.
                It does at that. I did not notice it in this picture. Interestingly, I went up in it in 1972. It had just been built and the land around it was all dirt and rubble.
                RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
                10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
                4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
                56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
                60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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                • #9
                  I think Warren Buffett owns most of the rail stuff in your area. He's been shipping oil for years.
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                  Claude Chmielewski
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                  • #10
                    It is St. Louis, and recent enough to include the Thomas Eagleton Fed. (“R2-D2” cloned) Courthouse, completed in 2000.

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                    • #11
                      I copied the photo from the internet, without knowing anything about it's location.
                      sigpic
                      In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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                      • #12
                        It's an above ground pipe line either in waiting or salvage...one way or another the oil has to flow....below ground is much safer
                        Bill Foy
                        1000 Islands, Ontario
                        1953 Starlight Coupe

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                        • #13
                          Some later reading puts up the idea these tankers could be full of oil. Storage waiting for prices to go up. Some articles indicate a lot of oil in storage now since prices are low and waiting for them to rise when it gets sold/refined.

                          Jeff in ND

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jeff_H View Post
                            Some later reading puts up the idea these tankers could be full of oil. Storage waiting for prices to go up. Some articles indicate a lot of oil in storage now since prices are low and waiting for them to rise when it gets sold/refined.
                            I hope they get moved every couple of weeks of they are full of fluid! There will be flat-spotting of the wheels, journal bearings, and corrosion build on the bogies, plus concentrated weight on the tracks in one spot (especially during spring thaw) to be concerned about.

                            Craig

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                            • #15
                              Jeff,
                              We usually travel on roads less travelled. A couple of years ago we were in remote northern Nevada, Idaho or Montana (don't recall which) and came upon mile after mile of rail cars abandoned on seldom used tracks in the high desert wilderness. I don't recall if they were tankers but if I remember correctly, I think there were box cars as well (some I think old enough to be made of wood). I remember thinking that there had to be approximately 25 or 30 miles of these unused (or maybe they were used for storage) cars as I usually drive at least 60 MPH and they went on for over half an hour. Due to location, most people would never see them.
                              Bill
                              PS: You could also check out this site:


                              Railcars in Storage - Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places

                              www.frrandp.com › 2019/09 › railcars-in-storage

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