New Regulations for Oil Transportation in the Bakken

new regulations for Bakken add strict guidelines
new regulations for Bakken add strict guidelines

In an effort to improve the safety of crude production in the Bakken region, the North Dakota Industrial Commission issued an order on December 9th that will impose new regulations on oil producers.

The order (no. 25417) is the result of an investigation that began at an emotionally charged hearing in September. Over the past two months, commission members Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring considered oral and written comments from technical witnesses, manufacturers, land/royalty owners and the general public.

The new regulations will go into effect on April 1, 2015 and require that all new wells in the Bakken Petroleum System utilize equipment that controls vapor pressure in order to lessen the likelihood of explosions during transportation. This order comes as a series of troublesome events in 2014 escalated a growing national concern over the transportation methods of Bakken crude.

The commission issued a joint statement that “The North Dakota Industrial Commission reiterates the importance of making Bakken crude oil as safe as possible for transportation. This order will bring every barrel of Bakken crude within standards to improve the safety of oil for transport.

In order to come into compliance, producers will have to shell out millions of dollars for new equipment, updated facilities and increased personnel. The order also establishes the Commission’s jurisdiction over these matters and provides for potential criminal and civil penalties for producers that are deemed noncompliant.

Read the Commission Report here.

Continental's CEO Harold Hamm Wants No Part of Harms' "Moderated Approach"

Harold Hamm Continental Resources
Harold Hamm Continental Resources

Harold Hamm spoke out against Robert Harms' recent comments regarding a "moderated approach" to oil and gas development in North Dakota in an interview with Forum News Service.

Hamm makes the case that the industry has already slowed down quite a bit from the frantic pace of exploration and is now developing leases in a more orderly fashion.

One example is the Bakken rig count. It's down almost 20% from the peak.Multiple wells are being drilled from a single pad and operators are using what they've learned through exploration to drive down drill times.

We shouldn’t overreact. We’re doing something that’s not only the best thing for North Dakota and for that area up there, but also for our entire nation,” Hamm said. “The world has been changed by the fact that we can produce energy of this quantity in America today.

A further slow down could have unforeseen ramifications for a industry that has turned North Dakota into an economic powerhouse.

Is Bakken Oil More Flammable?

Plains Crude By Rail Costs
Plains Crude By Rail Costs

Bakken oil is produced at a high quality that makes it easier to refine into commercial products and makes it easier to ignite.

There is nothing new about oil being flammable. The science has been the same for well....forever. At a point a few decades ago, light-sweet crude (WTI) was the dominate oil quality in the U.S.

Light oil production growth in the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian isn't something the industry has never seen or handled, but it is an unforeseen boom bigger than anyone expected.

Now that trains are moving the oil on a larger scale, it's important the terminals and rail companies meet high standards to ensure safety.

The flash point or lowest possible temperature at which the oil can be ignited is lower for Bakken oil than it is for tar sands coming out of Canada. That fact led the DOT to issue a Bakken Shale Oil Shipping Safety Alert last week.

What's Important to Ensuring Safety in the Bakken?

In short, the answer is YES. Bakken crude is of high quality and more flammable than lower grade crude oil, but that's nothing new and shouldn't be a shock. Emphasis needs to be placed on classifying the crude correctly (which it hasn't been shown that there is a problem there) and making sure the railroads are as safe as possible.

Additional safety measures need to be taken when hydrogen-sulfide or other flammable gases are dissolved in the oil. The oil needs to be degasified before transportation.

The other thing we can do as voters - Make sure pipelines can be built where needed without undue obstacles. The track record speaks for itself - pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move hydrocarbons.

Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions below:

Department of Transportation's PHMSA Issues Bakken Shale Oil Shipping Safety Alert

Oil Rail Car Image
Oil Rail Car Image

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a safety alert for Bakken crude.

PHMSA issued the alert to reinforce the need to test, characterize, classify, and where appropriate de-gassify the crude oil before transportation.

PHMSA also wants to remind first responders of that light sweet crude is assigned a packing group of I or II. Those packing groups mean the flash point is below 73 degrees Farenheit and the boiling point for packing group I is below 95 degrees Farenheit.

"Operation Classification" will be an ongoing effort, and PHMSA will continue to collect samples and measure the characteristics of Bakken crude as well as oil from other locations.

Read the full releast at

EOG Resources' Secrets To Success In The Bakken & Other Shale Plays

Oil Rail Car Image
Oil Rail Car Image

EOG Resources opened North Dakota to the modern oil industry when the company discovered the Parshall Field in 2006. The company led the shift to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in oil plays like the Bakken and Eagle Ford. Forbes published an interesting article on the company in July.

EOG invested in areas that weren't common for oil companies just a few years ago.

  • EOG spent $100 million on a rail terminal in 2008
  • EOG invested $200 million in three sand mines and two processing facilities in Wisconsin

EOG increased the value of oil the company was producing by bypassing pipeline choke points.

Sand mines in Wisconsin save the company an average of $500,000 per well. Self-sourced sand saves the company as much as $300 million per year!

In addition, EOG is using microseismic sensors to understand the reach and effectiveness of the company's well completions. As a result, the company has shifted from focusing on reach in completions to utilizing shorter, but more energy intensive fracks. Shorter frack lengths allow the company to drill wells at closer acreage spacing.

Read the full article at