Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the economy needs to diversify beyond its U.S. base by courting energy-hungry Asian economies. For ports in British Columbia, CN and the Canadian government discussed moving crude oil by rail.
CN spokesman Mark Hallman said crude oil deliveries by rail tanker were competitive against conventional pipelines.
"[Rail is] just as safe and as environmentally sustainable as pipelines in moving energy to market," he told Platts energy news Monday.
Hallman said CN would use an existing rail line to Prince Rupert, though infrastructure is not yet in place to unload oil.
Environmental group Greenpeace told Platts rail deliveries pose a relatively equal threat to the environment when compared with pipelines.
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge aims to build its Northern Gateway pipeline to British Columbia. Provincial and aboriginal concerns over the environment have slowed the project down.
Platts reports the CN rail line to Prince Rupert could match Northern Gateway's capacity of about 525,000 barrels of oil per day.