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.
    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.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora