Monday, November 03, 2008

Got A Mule

Sometimes lost, I think, in the discussions of what happens to the world if oil prices really skyrocket is the fact it's really really cheap to ship things on water. If oil prices went up a lot it would still be pretty cheap.

The canal still remains the most fuel-efficient way to ship goods between the East Coast and the upper Midwest. One gallon of diesel pulls one ton of cargo 59 miles by truck, 202 miles by train and 514 miles by canal barge, Ms. Mantello said. A single barge can carry 3,000 tons, enough to replace 100 trucks.

Obviously not all places are well-served by waterways, and the slower speed is problematic for more time sensitive goods. But if oil prices quadrupled you'd see a big shift to shipping.