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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs