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CALGARY, Alberta, May 26 (Reuters) - Canadian exports of crude oil by rail hit a record high of 160,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of 2014, Canada's National Energy Board says, a more than 50 percent rise from the same period a year earlier.
Canada shipped 160,164 bpd out of the country by rail between January and March, a sharp rise from the first quarter of 2013, when it exported 105,632 bpd, the NEB said on Friday. The first-quarter figure was a 7 percent increase from the final quarter of 2013, when 149,479 bpd were exported by rail.
The crude-by-rail boom in Canada has been gathering pace over the past two years as producers seek alternatives to congested export pipelines that can leave crude bottlenecked in the oil-rich province of Alberta and weigh on prices.
Midstream companies such as Gibson Energy Inc and some major Alberta oil sands producers such as Imperial Oil are rushing to build new unit train terminals that can load more than 100 cars or up to 70,000 barrels of crude in one go.
Canada, which has the world's third-largest crude reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, exports around 2.6 million bpd in total. (Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Peter Galloway)