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Crude by rail has exploded in the last three years heres a map that shows how much

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The following map shows just how many loading and unloading terminals have been constructed since 2010:

(For a larger, easier to read version, check out PDF page 17 - report page ES-11 here).

Loading facilities (red dots) are located throughout the major tight oil plays in North America, including the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). Oil is transported in tanker cars to offloading terminals (blue dots) along the Gulf Coast and East Coast where it is then refined into products like gasoline and diesel fuel.

The map is part of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (PDF) on the Keystone XL pipeline project and provides support for the agency’s determination that oil from Canadian oil sands will find their way to refiners and markets whether the pipeline is built or not.

Rail loading facilities in the WCSB are estimated by the State Department to have a capacity around 700,000 bpd, and expected to increase to 1.1 million bpd by the end of 2014. Currently, 180,000 bpd of heavy crude are transported from the WCSB across the US-Canada border, a volume that has grown drastically since 2010.

The northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline will have a capacity of 830,000 bpd if it is constructed.

Correction: an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the WCSB as the Alberta Oil Sand play.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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