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KEVIN BENNETT/The Globe and Mail

Rail shipments of fuel oils and crude petroleum were up 468,000 tonnes in May this year, a 74.1-per-cent increase from the same month last year, according to numbers released today by Statistics Canada.

The numbers reflect growing pressure to find more capacity to move crude from Alberta and North Dakota, where production is rising. With many North American pipelines at or near capacity shipping oil by rail has become increasingly popular as producers on both sides of the border look for ways to get their product to market.

Last week Canadian National Railway Co. reported second-quarter results that showed a 14-per-cent jump in earnings, with oil-by-rail revenue surging 150 per cent.

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According to Statistics Canada rail shipments of all commodities were on the rise in May.

Gains were reported in 45 of the 64 commodity groups that Statistics Canada tracks.

Shipments of iron ores and concentrates increased by 562,000 tonnes in may, while potash and coal were up 385 000 tonnes and 367 000 tonnes respectively.

Overall, freight carried by Canadian railways rose 12.9 per cent to 29.3-million tonnes in May, the the largest volume of domestic tonnage for the month since since 1999.

This, despite the fact that traffic from connections south of the border fell 3.9 per cent to 3.3 million tonnes in May.

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