PHMSA Offers Pipeline Safety Grants

Bakken pipeline threatened
Bakken pipeline threatened

As oil pipeline safety concerns escalate across the country, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is ramping up its efforts to meet the growing demand for innovation.

Related:ND Defines Stricter Rules for Pipeline Construction

In addition to hiring more that 100 new safety inspectors this year, the PHMSA will also be awarding $2 million in grants for students and faculty to research pipeline safety solutions. These grants designed to expose new engineers and scientists to the technical side of the energy transportation sector.

We’re not simply offering grants through the CAAP; we’re demonstrating to engineering and technical students that their disciplines are in demand in the energy pipeline sector,” said PHMSA Acting Administrator Timothy Butters. “PHMSA provides safety oversight for the country’s 2.6-million-mile pipeline network, and we need out-of-the-box thinkers.

Grant proposals will be evaluated on scientific merit, quality, management plans, work tasks, budgets and schedules. The PHMSA is specifically seeking projects that address technical gaps in the following areas:

  • Preventing and Mitigating Pipeline Corrosion
  • Developing Locatable Plastic Pipelines
  • Developing Inspection Tools to Quantify Pipe Strength and Toughness
U.S. Senator for North Dakota John Hoeven, commented“As we work towards building a comprehensive ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan for our country, it’s important to ensure that we build the right kind of infrastructure to support our energy needs, now and into the future,” Hoeven said. “We must ensure that our infrastructure is reliable, safe and efficient, and this grant will enable universities to do the innovative research that will do just that.

The debate around the safety of cruse pipelines has heated up since the shale oil boom in 2008. Most recently, President Obama delayed the Keystone pipeline when he vetoed bill saying he wants to hold off a final decision until further environmental reviews are complete.

Related: Obama Issues Keystone Pipeline Veto

ND Defines Stricter Rules for Pipeline Construction & Stripper Well Exemptions

A number of changes to the North Dakota Administrative Code could impact pipeline development and stripper wells in 2014. Approved by the North Dakota Industrial Commission last month, forty-seven (47) new rules were proposed, bringing the number of rules for oil and gas operations to seventy (70). According to the Department of Mineral Resources, a division of the Industrial Commission, the changes could take place as early as April 1, 2014. One particular area of the code, 43-02-03-29, addresses pipeline development in the region:

All newly constructed underground gathering pipelines must be devoid of leaks and constructed of materials resistant to external corrosion and to the effects of transported fluids. All such pipelines installed in a trench must be installed in a manner that minimizes interference with agriculture, road and utility construction, the introduction of secondary stresses, the possibility of damage to the pipe, and tracer wire shall be buried with any nonconductive pipe installed. When a trench for an oil and gas underground gathering pipeline is backfilled, it must be backfilled in a manner that provides firm support under the pipe and prevents damage to the pipe and pipe coating from equipment or from the backfill material.

The new regulations come at a time when increased scrutiny on pipeline development in the region is piquing. A Tesoro pipeline released approximately 20,000 bbls of crude near Tioga, ND, in October. The cause is believed to be related to corrosion.

Read more: North Dakota Oil Spill Recover Efforts Underway

NDIC's Authority to Define Stripper Wells Expanded

Yet another area of production that could see an impact are in wells defined as stripper wells. The Director of the Department of Mineral Resources, Lynn Helms, already had the authority to determine stripper well property status. The change could impact the number of wells receiving tax exemptions through stripper well status. The new regulations extend Helms's ability to determine a stripper well. Furthermore, the revised regulations account for horizontal drilling, relative to stripper wells:

"If a well that has previously qualified as a stripper well property is reentered and recompleted as a horizontal well, the stripper well property status on that well will terminate. "

Other facets of production worth noting that will be affected are with the notification of fires, leaks, spills or blowouts and underground injection wells.


North Dakota Oil Spill Recovery Efforts Underway - Tesoro

Bakken Pipeline Map
Bakken Pipeline Map

North Dakota oil spill recovery efforts are underway near Tioga in Williams County and it will likely be weeks before we know the full story.

The spill affected a little more than 7 acres and did not penetrate groundwater sources or impact wildlife.

Many have criticized the state for taking 11 days to notify the public. One reason for the delay was officials thought the spill was less than 1,000 bbls.

Tesoro now estimates more than 20,000 bbls of oil were spilled from the pipeline. Some are questioning those estimates, but again it's early and very difficult to estimate the true impact.

"As unfortunate as it is, it is actually very beneficial with a clay layer and not hitting water," one Tesoro official stated.

Tesoro and locals are actually lucky as there is thick clay layer approximately 10-12 feet deep that helped contain the oil. The seal has allowed Tesoro to recover more than 3,000 bbls already. Trenches have been dug to allow the oil to flow out of the soil. Those trenches will likely be used like french drains throughout the winter, while remediation efforts continue.

The section of pipe that was leaking has been sent to an independent lab to be studied and a replacement pipe circumventing the spill site is already being installed.

Watch for an official announcement from Tesoro as the cause and impact of the spill can be more confidently determined.

Flexpipe Systems Opens Bakken Field Office In Dickinson - Press Release

Flexpipe Systems recently announced the opening of the company's North Dakota Sales and Operations Solutions Center. This new location will be open to support the future growth of Flexpipe Systems in the highly active Bakken Shale. The facility features 11,000 sq. ft. of office and warehouse space set on 5 acres of land located in Dickinson, ND. The strategic location will allow the company to better service Eastern Montana and NorthernWyoming.

The Bakken is the second largest area in the US for oil and gas exploration.

Contact info:

Flexpipe Systems 180 - 25th Ave East Dickinson, ND 58601 Phone: 701.690.1208

The article above was published through`s press release distribution service. Learn more about Bakken Advertising here.

Bakken Flaring In The News - Report Cites Billions In Lost Revenue

Bakken Natural Gas Flaring
Bakken Natural Gas Flaring

Bakken flaring is in the news again. A sustainability group published a report touting the billions in lost revenue from natural gas flaring. It's a contentious topic that isn't going to disappear until flaring is reduced.

The study estimated that as much as $1 billion in revenue was lost in 2012. The report assumed a natural gas value of $13.50/mcf (this includes the value of NGLs). While the natural gas produced from the Bakken has a high btu content, it does not have a local market like other areas of the U.S. We'd put $13.50 on the very generous side.

If one billion or more in revenue had been lost in a single year, operators and midstream companies would be closer to making the financial commitments necessary to eliminate flaring.

Instead, midstream companies are waiting for commitments from operators and more assurance that production will be here for the long haul. Money isn't made building pipelines for peak production.

WBI Energy, a subsidiary of MDU Resources, is preparing for a open season for commitments on a pipeline that will move natural gas to Minnesota. If the pipeline goes forward, it will be in service some time in 2016 and will have capacity to move more natural gas than what is currently flared.

Revenue Lost Was Likely Much Lower

In actuality, I believe the amount of revenue lost was closer to 25-50% of the estimates provided in the report. When you only get a fraction of the $250-500 million in revenue lost, it makes building multi-billion dollar infrastructure a much more difficult decision.