OREANDA-NEWS. Leading crude-by-rail mover BNSF last week reported its smallest number of petroleum carloads since August 2012.

The railroad, in its weekly filing to industry group the Association of American Railroads (AAR), reported 7,237 petroleum carloads last week and has reported fewer than 8,000 for four straight weeks. In the same week last year, it reported 10,832 petroleum carloads.

BNSF dominates rail movements out of the Bakken shale, which have declined sharply amid falling production and greater migration to pipelines as rail arbitrages to the coasts have turned negative.

The rolling average of petroleum carloads by the six largest North American railroads fell for the third straight week to 27,952, its lowest level since October 2013.

December crude output from North Dakota, which is largely from the Bakken, averaged 1.15mn b/d, down by about 29,500 b/d from the previous month, according to state regulators. The Bakken is the third most productive US shale field, having seen production grow sharply from about 150,000 b/d in 2008 to more than 1mn b/d.