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The Canada Energy Regulator says crude-by-rail exports reached a record high of 403,767 barrels per day in January, the first time they’ve surpassed 400,000 bpd.

The surge in rail movements of oil beats by 10.6 per cent the previous record of 364,893 bpd set in December 2018. In December 2019, shipments totalled 347,000 bpd.

The federal agency formerly known as the National Energy Board attributed the increase to two things: An Alberta government program to ease oil production limits for producers who add rail capacity, and a wide difference in Canadian and U.S. oil prices that supported the higher cost of rail shipping versus pipelines.

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Oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. previously reported that its crude-by-rail shipments jumped to 120,000 barrels per day in January from 106,000 in December.

Fellow Calgary-based producer Imperial Oil Ltd. said it increased crude-by-rail shipments to more than 100,000 bpd in January from zero in October and planned to continue to add railcars if the transportation option remained profitable.

The production limits in Alberta were implemented in January 2019 to better match growing oil output with limited pipeline space, thus drawing down overflowing storage and reducing steep price discounts on trapped western Canadian crude.

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