Return to For Immediate Release

North Dakota Industrial Commission trying to slip one past the goalie

Ron SchalowBy
Ron Schalow
On Thursday November 13th, Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms presented the North Dakota Industrial Commission with proposed new standards (there never were any old standards), supposedly for the purpose of making the Bakken oil trains non-explosive, somewhat less explosive, kinda not explosive, get the height of the fireballs down into double digits…I don’t know.But, if the goal is to render the Bakken oil trains NON-explosive, the proposal to “condition” the crude isn’t going to cut it.

The producers have ALWAYS “conditioned” the crude, but, evidently, NOW they’re going to be “forced” by the North Dakota Industrial Commission to turn the knob a few notches to the right, and everything will be peachy.If it was that simple; perhaps they should have done that before dozens of people got killed…maybe sometime shortly after the first Bakken oil train derailed and blew sky high in 2008.They need to bring in the proper equipment to “stabilize” the crude, which will remove more than a fraction of highly explosive NGL’s like propane, ethane, and butane… but that option would cost the poverty stricken oil companies a substantial amount of money, and we can’t have that.

On December 16, 2013, Lynn Helms; said his agency and the state Pipeline Authority are working to create a white paper that would study the characteristics of the state’s oil “to dispel this myth that it is somehow an explosive, really dangerous thing to have traveling up and down rail lines.”On November 13, 2014, Lynn Helms says, “The focus is safety first.” Uh huh.

“We really believe that the vast majority of our Bakken crude oil will already fall well below the standard.”–Lynn Helms
If Helms thinks that the “vast majority” is already safe for shipment, then why do the Bakken oil trains violently explode “EVERY” time they derail? We’re up to five as of today, and 47 deaths…five of whom were vaporized.
Shockingly, the oil guys agree with Helms. (Jeff) Hume (Continental Resources vice chairman of strategic growth initiatives) said most of Continental’s Bakken oil already is below the proposed limit, and that the company would be able to easily comply with the new regulations.Now; how did that happen?All of that is more than a little dodgy, but get a load of this:

Bakken producers aren’t just leaving explosive natural gas liquids in the crude; some are adding them…just in case 3 million gallons of “flammable” liquid per train isn’t dangerous enough.
And our ND oil regulators had to know about it, and did nothing about it,..or else how would they know to make the rule. The practice is just going to be “limited” though, so there’s no reason for Ron Ness to freak out.
“The rules also would limit the practice of blending Bakken crude with more volatile fuels.”–NEWSOK

All of this sudden concern for safety is an obvious con, including the phony outrage of the ND Petroleum Council.

Railway Age called it on September 26th
“The state’s (North Dakota) three-person Industrial Commission seems likely to adopt a set of industry-designed best practices. Simply put, North Dakotan crude will have to be lightly pressure-cooked to boil off a fraction of the volatile “light ends” before shipment.”
This conditioning lowers the ignition temperature of crude oil—but not by much. It leaves in solution most of the culprit gases, including butane and propane.Even the industry itself says conditioning would not make Bakken crude meaningfully safer for transportation, though it would make the state’s crude more consistent from one well to another.
The only solution for safety is stabilization, which evaporates and re-liquefies nearly all of the petroleum gases for separate delivery to refiners. Stabilization is voluntarily and uniformly practiced in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas…”–Railway Age

Ron Schalow
Fargo, North Dakota

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.