UPDATE 2-Canadian crude exports to U.S. top 3 million bpd for first time
(Adds context on market access, rail capacity, quotes)
By Nia Williams
CALGARY, Alberta Oct 8 (Reuters) - Canadian crude exports to the United States topped 3 million barrels per day last week for the first time, suggesting delays to new export pipelines such as TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL were failing to check oil sands development.
Environmental groups are fiercely opposed to new pipeline projects connecting Alberta's oil sands to the United States and the east and west coasts, reasoning that without market access crude production will slow.
TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL project, intended to carry 830,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is mired in its sixth year of waiting for a presidential permit from the Obama administration. Enbridge Inc has also run into regulatory delays on its cross-border Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion project.
But the latest weekly data from the U.S. Environmental Information Administration shows Canadian crude exports are ramping up rapidly despite the pipeline impasse.
Canada, the No. 1 supplier of crude to the United States, exported 3.248 million bpd of crude to its southern neighbor in the week ended Oct. 3, up 18 percent from the previous week and up 35 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The four-week average to Oct. 3 was 2.977 million bpd.
"It's a pretty clear indication that crude will find its way to market around various constraints," said Sandy Fielden, analyst at RBN Energy. Continued...