North Dakota mulls study of state's oil volatility

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm •  Published: December 16, 2013
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota officials are considering crafting a report that the state's top oil regulator says would disprove that hauling crude by rail from the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations is dangerously explosive.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Mineral Resources, told North Dakota lawmakers last week that some people are attempting to raise fears about railing North Dakota crude, after a train hauling it derailed and exploded in a small Quebec city in July, killing 47 people and destroying much of the town.

Helms, a chemical engineer, 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."

State Mineral Resources spokeswoman Alison Ritter said the agency is unaware of any studies that have been done to compare North Dakota crude to other oils hauled by train.

"We don't have data that says it's more volatile or that it's not as volatile," Ritter said. "Until we have data that reflects otherwise, crude is crude and it's been moved by train for a long time."

Ritter and Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the funding and authorship of the report have yet to be finalized.

"It's just discussion, at this point," Kringstad said. "We don't have anything official yet. It could go nowhere."

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