Buffett: moving oil by rail safely major industry concern

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:28am EDT
 
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By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that safety is a major priority for the rail industry, after a recent spate of accidents raised concerns about how to transport oil safely.

"I can tell you that's all they're thinking about," the investor said in an interview with Reuters.

"We're going to move a lot of crude in this country, and we have to learn how to do it very safely," he added.

He added that the delay in the construction of the Keystone pipeline was unlikely to prompt additional purchases of tank cars at Berkshire railroad unit BNSF.

Earlier this year the railroad said it plans to buy its own fleet of up to 5,000 new crude oil tank cars with safety features that exceed the latest industry standards.

Oil by rail has surged in recent years, helped by a boom in North Dakota. Traffic is now running 10 percent ahead of last year at this time, with BNSF accounting for roughly a third of U.S. oil-by-rail traffic.

But recent accidents have underscored the dangers of transporting the volatile fuel by train, with Canada now planning to phase out older tank cars to improve safety.

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Warren Buffett, co-chair of the 10,000 Small Businesses Advisory Council, takes part in a panel discussion following a news conference announcing a $20 million partnership to bring Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses initiative to the city of Detroit, Michigan November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook