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Bakken crude within safety restrictions for rail

Oilfield Technology,

The AFPM has released findings from a new report that examines the characteristics of Bakken crude oil and the standards required to transport by rail. The results demonstrate that Bakken crude is well within the safety standards for current rail car designs. More specifically, Bakken crude is comparable to other light crudes and does not pose risks that are significantly different than other crudes or flammable liquids authorised for rail transport. In particular, Bakken crudes are well within the regulatory limits for pressure, flashpoint, boiling point and corrosivity for use in Department of Transport (DOT) approved railcars.

Within parameters

The report data shows that the current classification of Bakken crude is accurate and appropriate. Bakken crude is designated as a flammable liquid under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and as such, is subject to evaluation of its flashpoint and initial boiling point for classification purposes. While Bakken crude and other light crudes may contain higher amounts of dissolved flammable gases compared to some heavy crude oils, the percentage of dissolved gases would not cause Bakken crude to be transported under a DOT hazard class other than Class 3 Flammable Liquid. Therefore, there is no need to create a new DOT classification for crude oil transportation.

The maximum vapour pressure observed based on data collected was 61% below the vapour pressure threshold limit for liquids under the HMR; demonstrating that Bakken crude oil is properly classified as a flammable liquid. Further, the highest reported value was more than 90% below the maximum pressure that DOT-111 rail cars were built to withstand.

Comments from Drevna

Charles T Drevna, President, AFPM said, "the US is very fortunate to be experiencing an increase in domestic energy production and, as a result, more crude oil is being shipped by rail. Although, the transportation of crude oil by rail is extremely safe, we strive to make continuous improvements and work toward a zero incident rate.

"This report was aimed at specifically addressing the characteristics of Bakken crude and concludes that its characteristics are not different than other light crude oils. We believe this data will help better inform the government as it reviews all aspects of the safe transportation of crude by rail.

"Rail safety is a shared responsibility and AFPM and our member are committed to doing our part. But, new specifications must be based in data showing the benefits are real and that the new design will not adversely impact our ability to provide the fuels and other products Americans depend on every day."

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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