There are few industries that are as mature, established, and reliable performers in the market as the railroad industry. The cost to entry into the market is immense. Consider laying tracks down over hundreds if not thousands of kilometres; it is extremely unlikely that any new rail companies will be emerging anytime soon.
One such company that has the infrastructure built in all of the right places is Canadian National Railway Company (TSX:CNR)(NYSE:CNI). The company transports over $250 billion in cargo across Canada and the U.S. each year.
If investors were pleased with Canadian National before, then they will be particularly pleased with the company now that the Keystone XL deal has been rejected.
The Keystone XL project
Keystone XL was TransCanada Corporation’s (TSX:TRP)(NYSE:TRP) proposed pipeline that would transport Canadian crude to American refineries in the Gulf coast and the Midwest. The planned route started in Alberta and went through Montana, where American-produced oil would be added to the mix, and through South Dakota into Nebraska, where it would join with existing pipelines that run south to the Gulf Coast.
The pipeline was rejected earlier this month by the U.S. government after being under review for eight years. There were a number of environmental and routing concerns with the project, which lead to the delays that ultimately killed the deal.
The pipeline was intended to handle the transportation of up to 830,000 barrels of crude per day to Gulf and Midwest refineries. As the deal has now been rejected, energy transport companies will be seeking other alternatives, and this is where Canadian National comes into play.
A Rail link to refineries
One of the main benefactors of the deal being rejected is Canadian National. The company already transports a fair amount of crude, but not nearly as much as it did years ago when commodity prices were higher.
To transport a barrel of crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast costs between $7 and $11. By rail, this figure increases to between $12 and $20. Canadian National is in a unique position here because the company has decreased freight rates, dropping them to $15 or less per barrel.
More importantly, Canadian National’s network of rail extends across Canada and straight down the U.S. to the Gulf Coast. Canadian National not only has access to three different coasts, but it also runs directly through the refineries of the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.
Canadian National represents an excellent opportunity for investors seeking an investment for the long term. With a large number of oil sands projects coming online over the next few years, the amount of crude being transported by rail will increase as production does, translating into greater revenues and growth for Canadian National.