Land or Ocean: What is The Best Way to Ship Crude Oil?

Land or Ocean: What is The Best Way to Ship Crude Oil?

Crude oil is an essential commodity for the modern world. It is used to produce gasoline, diesel fuel, and fuels a variety of products that we rely on every day.

Because crude, oil, and gas are hazardous products, shipping processes can be challenging. Regulatory mandates and special handling requirements can further complicate matters but choosing the right transportation method reduces risk and ensures your cargo gets where it’s going safely and on time.

In this post, we will talk about popular transport methods for crude oil, compare land shipping vs. ocean shipping, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Top Four Transportation Methods for Crude Oil

There are many ways to transport crude, but which one is best? Let’s look at the top four.

1. Trucks

Trucks are the most common method used to transport oil and gas in North America.

Benefits of using trucks to transport crude:

· Access remote locations that pipelines cannot reach
· Transport crude from multiple origins to a central collection point
· Flexible and easily adaptable to production or destination changes
· Schedule anytime, go anywhere
· Less potential for environmental damage due to smaller loads

Drawbacks of using trucks to transport crude:

· More expensive than pipelines
· Truck emissions contribute to air pollution
· Trucks can be involved in accidents that can cause oil spills
· Limited capacity

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2. Ocean

More than 60% of the world’s crude supply is transported by ocean tanker.

Benefits of ocean transport:

· Move large volumes over great distances
· Access global locations
· Inexpensive compared to other methods

Drawbacks of using ocean tankers to transport crude:

· Slow-moving
· Risk of catastrophic oil spills if there is an accident at sea
· Emissions
· Noise pollution disrupts marine life

3. Pipelines

About 90% of all crude oil in the U.S. today is moved by pipeline.

Pipeline benefits:

· Less expensive than trucks
· Transport large volumes of crude oil over long distances
· Safe and efficient transportation method for crude
· Modern technology makes pipelines safer and easier to monitor for leaks and damage

Pipeline drawbacks:

· Can only transport crude from one origin to one destination
· When pipelines leak the environmental damage is catastrophic

4. Rail

About 15% of all crude oil in the U.S. goes by rail. Rail is generally used as part of an intermodal strategy.

Rail benefits:

· Transport crude from multiple origins to a central collection point
· Cost effective
· Fast transit times
· Transport large volumes of crude oil over long distances

Rail drawbacks:

· Railroads cannot be adapted to destination changes
· Rail accidents can cause oil spills
· Rail transportation creates emissions that contribute to air pollution

Land Shipping vs. Ocean Shipping for Crude: Benefits and Concerns

Choosing between land (truck) and ocean shipping to move crude comes down to cost, time, and destination. Partnering with an experienced 3PL like DTS World Cargo provides you with access to the best possible rates and industry expertise that help you grow your business sustainably. We’ll work with you to help you choose the best method according to your needs and priorities.

Request a quote today.