WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 5 (Reuters) - Protests along Canadian rail lines and lower government-imposed speed limits last month caused a modest drop in crude shipments on trains, data provider Genscape said on Thursday.
Canadian rail loadings in February averaged 346,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from 354,000 bpd in January, suggesting a “fairly minimal impact,” Genscape said in a statement.
Loadings had hit a record high in December of 358,000 bpd.
Protests popped up last month in solidarity with a British Columbia indigenous group that opposes construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through its territory. Trains carrying dangerous goods also ran at slower speeds following derailments.
Crude shipments by rail have risen as Canadian pipelines have become congested. A buildup of crude in Western Canada has forced the Alberta provincial government to curtail production, but those stockpiles are declining.
Western Canadian inventories totaled 31.7 million barrels as of Feb. 28, down from 32.5 million on Feb. 7 and 39.5 million barrels on Jan. 3, Genscape said, adding that extreme cold weather hampered Alberta oil production in January. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Peter Cooney)