Tag Archives: Stabilizing equipment

BizJournal: Why does North Dakota oil explode so much?

Repost from The Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal 

Why does North Dakota oil explode so much?

By Mark Reilly, Managing Editor- Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – July 8, 2014

Oil-industry shortcuts made in the early days of the North Dakota oil boom have left the state awash with crude oil that’s so unstable many pipeline companies won’t ship it. Cue the exploding trains.

The Wall Street Journal reports that only one company in North Dakota has installed stabilizer equipment to remove explosive gases from the crude oil before transport. Federal regulations don’t call for such measures, but pipeline companies do, and that’s one reason why North Dakota oil is so often shipped by rail — and why oil trains have exploded so ferociously when they derail.

RELATED: Oil train tally: More than 40 per week into Minnesota

Now, faced with the prospect of an explosion in a populated area, regulators are reconsidering those rules. Industry groups have played down the danger, saying that train cars can handle the issue.

The Journal contrasts North Dakota with Texas, another region that’s seeing a boom in fracking-produced oil that’s possibly even more combustible. But in Texas, companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars to add stabilizing equipment and now ship it via pipeline with no trouble.