News / USA

Bakken Crude Volatility, Rail Safety Scrutinized in Northern US

Bakken Crude Rail Shipments Scrutinized in Northern USi
X
Kane Farabaugh
June 04, 2014 8:02 PM
US transportation department issues emergency order requiring shippers to test Bakken oil to ensure that it is properly classified prior to transit, but several industry-funded studies say Bakken is no more dangerous or volatile than other US crude. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Kane Farabaugh
— The U.S. department of transportation recently issued an emergency order requiring shippers of Bakken oil to ensure that the substance is properly classified prior to transit.

The order comes nearly a year after 72 tank cars derailed in the Quebec town of Lac Megantic, sparking a massive explosion and fire that killed 47 people.

The crude oil in the tanker cars had come from the Bakken formation, a crude deposit that underlies subsurface portions of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, and North Dakota, the country's second largest oil-producing state, where companies extract roughly one million barrels of crude per day.

Since several accidents have raised concerns about Bakken crude transportation methods — and the volatility the substance itself — some regulators are seeking safer methods of transport.

But several industry-funded studies say Bakken is no more dangerous or volatile than other U.S. crude.

According to Jeff Hume, vice chairman of the oil production company Continental Resources, current regulations suffice.

“From what we tested and what we have gotten, it fits the specifications that FIMSA has today for the rails cars that we are shipping it in," he said. "So under today’s rules, we are moving it in a proper container.”

About 70 percent of North Dakota and Montana crude oil leaves by rail. North Dakota Petroleum Council Vice President Kari Cutting says shippers and producers are following government rules.

“All of those federal regulations that have been followed by Bakken, since we started producing Bakken — as far as classifying it, putting it in rail cars, moving it safely, all of the things that the shippers and producers have to do before it goes in to that railcar — all of those rules were followed,” Cutting said.

The safety concerns about rail have underscored the benefits of pipelines, but North Dakota State University Economist Dean Bangsund describes the existing pipeline infrastructure as inadequate.

“A big issue in the state right now is the lack of pipeline capacity, and that the pipeline capacity to take the crude oil out of the state ends up with large price discounts," he said. "So the industry is [aiming] to move crude oil out of the state by rail.”

The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would connect pipes from Canada to the southern United States and allow 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil to flow daily to a proposed link in the town of Baker, Montana.

“Some of the crude that is coming through the existing pipelines would get moved into that, therefore displacing and adding existing capacity to some of the pipelines we already have in place,” Bangsund said.

But concerns about the environmental risks of the Keystone XL pipeline have put it on hold. Though the cost to ship crude oil by rail is typically more expensive than pipelines, some companies still prefer that option because trains can reach more refineries than existing pipelines.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ron Schalow
June 04, 2014 8:46 PM
COUNTRY AT MERCY OF ND PETROLEUM COUNCIL & NDGOP

When is a North Dakota leader going to stand up and say; "I know how to fix this problem. The oil from our State needs to be stripped of the explosive gases, and put in tanker cars thicker than a soda can, because it's EXPLOSIVE!" You don't need more studies to figure that out.

Congressman Kevin Cramer was there as a Regulator.

PSC Commissioner Brian Kalk knows.

Our AG & Ag Commissioner on the Industrial Commission. Yup.

Governor Dalrymple. For sure.

PSC Commissioner Fedorchak must have figured it out by now.

Al Carlson? More...?

It's that simple. And, it's going to cost Continental, Whiting, Oasis, and the rest a bundle; but whose problem is that?

Our economy is going to take a hit, because Cities & States will decide not to let ND oil pass by on their tracks; but whose fault is that?

If our anti-regulation ND leaders had done their jobs years ago, half the Country, wouldn't be having night sweats right now, and they wouldn't be responsible for 47 deaths, plus billions in property & environmental damage, and Bakken crude wouldn't be a National problem.

“Light, sweet crude has a greater flammable range than gasoline,” said Clay Reid, a hazardous materials response expert with BNSF. “Just understand that part.”


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid