Tag Archives: Niobrara crude

Federal data: Not many oil trains for Keystone XL to displace

Repost from McClatchyDC News

Federal data: Not many oil trains for Keystone XL to displace

By Curtis Tate, McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 2, 2015 
Congress Keystone
Miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla, Feb. 1, 2012. SUE OGROCKI — AP

New data on crude oil shipments by rail released by the Department of Energy this week show that there are relatively few oil trains taking the path of the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

In its first monthly report on crude by rail, the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the bulk of oil shipments by rail are moving from North Dakota’s Bakken region to refineries in the mid-Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest.

Far less is moving from either Canada or the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, the location of 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Only about 5 percent of the crude oil moved by rail nationwide in January was bound for the Gulf Coast from either Canada or the Midwest.

A series of derailments has brought increased scrutiny to oil transportation by rail. Since the beginning of the year, four oil trains have derailed in the U.S. and Canada, leading to spills, fires and evacuations.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing new regulations intended to improve the safety of oil trains. They’re scheduled for publication next month.

Some supporters of the 1,700-mile Keystone project have claimed that it would reduce the need for rail shipments. The pipeline would have a projected capacity of 830,000 barrels a day, and would primarily move heavy crude oil from western Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The government’s new data confirms, however, that the primary flows of oil by rail are not to the Gulf Coast. Northeast refineries, concentrated in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have come to rely heavily on Bakken crude delivered by rail, and to a lesser extent, Canadian oil.

Oil trains have resulted in a 60 percent decline in oil imported to the East Coast from overseas countries, according to EIA.

Of the roughly 1 million barrels a day of oil that moved by rail in January, according to EIA, 914,000 barrels were from the Midwest petroleum-producing district that includes North Dakota, while another 130,000 barrels a day crossed the border from Canada.

In a report last month, the Energy Department projected that shipments of Canadian oil by rail could more than triple by 2016.

The mid-Atlantic region received 437,000 barrels a day from the Midwest district, and only 61,000 barrels from Canada. That’s roughly the equivalent of six or seven 100-car trains, each carrying about 3 million gallons.

Another 171,000 barrels a day from the Midwest, or about two to three 100-car trains, supplied West Coast refineries, mostly in Washington state.

The Gulf Coast region received only 107,000 barrels of oil a day from the Midwest and Canada combined. Another 107,000 barrels came from the Rocky Mountain petroleum-producing district, which includes the Niobrara region of Colorado and Wyoming.

Including oil that comes from west Texas or New Mexico, the equivalent of about three to four 100-car trains arrive at the Gulf Coast every day.


Wyoming Oil Spills in 2014 Already Double Amount Spilled In 2013

Repost from Associated Press on Huffington Post GREEN

Wyoming Oil Spills Total 220,000 Gallons In 2014, Already Double Amount Spilled In 2013

By Mead Gruver, 09/19/2014 
FILE – In this May 22, 2014 file photo provided by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a 25,000-gallon oil spill burns in the Powder River Basin southeast of Buffalo, Wyo., after officials deliberately ignited the crude in what they say was their best cleanup option in the rugged area. State records show the 25,000-gallon spill was one of three big oil spills in northeast Wyoming last spring that involved a storage tank and two pipelines owned by Casper-based Belle Fourche Pipeline. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — An oil boom in Wyoming has a filthy side effect: A string of accidents from a remote gulley in the Powder River Basin to a refinery in downtown Cheyenne already has made this year the state’s worst for oil spills since at least 2009, state records show.

Almost 220,000 gallons of oil already has spilled in Wyoming this year, more than double the 90,000 gallons all last year. About 165,000 gallons spilled in 2010, the previous worst year since the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality began tracking spills in a database that year.

“There’s a lot more production,” Joe Hunter, the department’s emergency response coordinator, said Thursday. “If you’re producing more, there’s going to be more opportunities for releases. We’re doing what we can to just make sure the things get cleaned up.”

Much of the oil spilled lately has been in the Powder River Basin, epicenter of Wyoming’s nascent oil boom. Oil production in the basin has doubled in the past five years as companies tap the Niobrara Shale and other deep formations with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

All the while, large volumes of oil spill on Wyoming’s remote landscapes with little public awareness. None of the federal or state agencies with purview over oil infrastructure and public lands in Wyoming actively notifies the public about oil spills except in extreme cases.

“Unless it’s going to have an impact on public health, that’s where we would notify the public,” Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Keith Guille said Thursday.

The biggest spills in Wyoming this year haven’t affected waterways, posed no risk to the public and promptly were cleaned up, according to Guille.

Guille said the department is working on developing a publicly accessible spills database. Such public disclosure could help the state agency encourage companies to work harder to prevent oil spills, said one environmental advocate.

“I think they’re more likely to be more careful. It’s a deterrent,” said Jill Morrison with the Powder River Basin Resource Council landowner advocacy group.

Department of Environmental Quality records disclosed in response to a request by The Associated Press show several recent oil spills weren’t inconsequential in scale. Three within a month last spring totaled more than 100,000 gallons and originated with infrastructure owned and operated by a single company, Casper-based Belle Fourche Pipeline:

— On April 30, a malfunction caused a 210,000-gallon oil storage tank owned by Belle Fourche in Campbell County to overflow, spilling 70,000 gallons of crude near a drilling site;

— On May 19, corrosion at a damaged section of a Belle Fourche pipeline spilled 25,000 gallons of oil that flowed three miles down an ephemeral drainage in Johnson County;

— On May 23, heavy equipment damaged one of the company’s pipelines in Crook County, spilling about 9,000 gallons of oil.

The Department of Environmental Quality isn’t pursuing fines against Belle Fourche or HollyFrontier, owner of a Cheyenne refinery where 70,000 gallons of oil spilled July 13, Hunter said.

The refinery spill happened when a severe thunderstorm dumped heavy rain and hail on a crude oil storage tank and cause the tank’s floating roof to collapse. The oil remained on site and was cleaned up quickly, according to Hunter.

The department decides whether to pursue fines against companies on a case-by-case basis, Hunter said.

“If we think there’s negligence, we’ll absolutely, 100 percent go after a violation. If surface water is obviously impacted, that’s grounds for seeking enforcement,” he said.

“You can’t really just say, you know, they met this number, so we’re going after enforcement. You’ve got to look at circumstances, was there negligence, could this be prevented?”

A message seeking comment from HollyFrontier wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

Bob Dundas, environmental coordinator for Belle Fourche Pipeline, said Thursday he would forward a reporter’s message to somebody else in the company who could comment. Nobody at the company called by press time.

“It looks like if we’re going to have more oil production, we’d better step up enforcement,” Morrison said. “We want to be looking at how we’re going to prevent this increase in oil spills.”