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Energy & Environment

ND Petroleum Council study: Bakken crude no more volatile than other crude

A study by the North Dakota Petroleum Council says Bakken crude is no more volatile than other light sweet crude.

The study was conducted in light of train derailments and subsequent fires – including the derailment near Casselton last December.

"There's nothing wrong with Bakken crude," said vice-chairman of strategic growth initiatives for Continental Resources Jeff Hume. He told attendees at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck other studies have come up with the same conclusion.

"The refiner's group put out a study a couple of weeks ago, and Transport Canada did a story after one of the accidents that happened up there," said Hume. "They're all coming up with the same answer of what our oil looks like.

A federal regulator told the Conference – the investigations bear that out.

"Did the Bakken crude oil cause any of these incidents? No," said PHMSA regional director Kim Wills. "It might have cause them to be more catastrophic, but it did not cause these incidents. It's a rail issue. Every one of these was caused by either a human error or a failure in the hardware in the rail system."

Wills says he’s not blaming the railroads themselves for these derailments. And he says railroads like the BNSF have agreed to step up track inspections and safety training.

The Petroleum Council study is not yet completed. And Hume says more work needs to be done – on branding Bakken crude as safe.

"That would bring not only value to us, but assures the quality of the oil being shipped is getting all the way to the marketplace," said Hume. "You're getting the real deal."

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