NDIC Reviews Bakken Crude Oil Study - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

NDIC Reviews Bakken Crude Oil Study

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The North Dakota Industrial Commission looks into vapor pressure requirements for conditioning crude oil.

The lower the pressure--the safer it is to transport the oil by rail.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission reviews a recent Turner, Mason report on Bakken crude oil.

The study commissioned by the North Dakota Petroleum Council concludes Bakken crude is a "light sweet crude oil" -- not more volatile than other crude oils.

It recommends actions can be taken with regards to heat and temperature to make Bakken crude less flammable for rail transport.

"We have seen and it's detailed in the report that you can achieve some reductions in the ethane, in the propane content by running the equipment at higher temperatures," says Crude Oil Quality Association Executive Director Dennis Sutton.

The report's findings show that vapor pressure in crude changes with the seasons.

"Winter temperatures tend to make those components want to be a liquid, stay in the crude oil until it gets warmed up. Then they want to evaporate and create vapor pressure," says North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.

It's an area Helms says he would like to investigate further.

"I think that's likely it was done over a March-April time frame so the temperatures outside were a bit above freezing to almost comfortable outside temperature, but there was no data collected during the December January Feb time frame," says Helms.

Despite PHMSA referring to Bakken crude as being more volatile than other heavy crudes, Helms says the Turner, Mason data suggests Bakken Crude is "middle of the pack." But, that could depend on conditioning.

"If you don't follow the proper field conditioning practices. If you don't follow the manufacturer's residence time in his equipment, if you don't apply some heat to it, you're not going to get that Bakken Barrel that's in the middle of the pack," says Helms.

Helms believes there are cost effective ways to increase crude oil safety that the Industrial Commission will look at further in the hearing process.

The Governor has asked to set up a public hearing on the issue sometime within the next month.

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