New North Dakota regulations to require oil “conditioning” before transport

Repost from The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, NY
[Editor: IMPORTANT – This new regulation would “condition” the oil, but it would fail to “stabilize” it.  See Ron Schalow’s comment, including “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….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…”  – RS]

New regulations could make crude oil transports less dangerous

By James Walsh, Dec. 10, 2014

The Industrial Commission of North Dakota has adopted requirements for treating volatile Bakken crude oil before it’s transported, rules that could reduce the chance of explosions on rail shipments through the Hudson Valley.

New York’s departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation had written to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple in October to support more stringent regulations. The commission also heard from more than two dozen representatives of oil companies and the petroleum industry.

Tuesday’s ruling gives crude producers until April 1 to comply or face fines of up to $12,500 for every day in violation, the commissioners said in a prepared statement.

The regulations include removing some gases before shipment and conditioning the crude oil to a vapor pressure not exceeding 13.7 pounds per square inch. National standards, according to the commission, allow pressures up to 14.7 psi.

While that reduces the chance of explosions, most train shipments remain in tanker cars apt to rupture in derailments and spill their volatile contents, said Kate Hudson, director of Riverkeeper’s watershed program.

“A train wreck that does not result in an explosion could still result in a significant oil spill,” she said.

Oil trains traversing the Hudson Valley typically haul 100 or more tanker cars, each capable of carrying 30,000 gallons. They travel near the Hudson River and through populated areas, including Kingston and Newburgh.

Environmentalists and the state are waiting for the federal Department of Transportation to issue rules for making safer cars. The federal DOT has proposed giving shippers two years to retrofit their cars, while oil and railroad industries have sought as long as seven years.

Concerns over Bakken crude shipments arose after 47 people were killed when a train derailed and exploded in Quebec in July 2013. An oil train wreck erupted into a giant fireball five months later, forcing the evacuation of a North Dakota town. Thousands of gallons of oil leaked into the James River in Lynchburg, Va., when a train derailed in May.