Oil from the Bakken region doesn’t pose a greater risk to transport than other similar, types of crude, a new report said.
The North Dakota Petroleum Council, an industry funded organization, said the study is the most scientific analysis of the region’s crude so far.
After a series of accidents involving rail shipments of the oil, the group hopes the report wipes away fears Bakken oil may be more prone to ignition.
“The long and the short of [the report] is that Bakken crude is not unique,” said Jonathan Garrett, a senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie. “What makes the Bakken unique is the amount of crude that’s leaving North Dakota and eastern Montana.”
Crude production in the Bakken region skyrocketed in the past few years and that means producers are turning to rail to ship the oil. In April, as much as 75 percent of North Dakota’s oil shipped by train, though the share has since fallen slightly as producers moved back to pipelines.
A string of accidents have followed the high volume of rail shipments. Last year, a train derailed the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic and killed 47.
Regulators and the industry have been examining the characteristics of the Bakken crude and shipping practices in a push for greater safety.
The new report by the North Dakota Petroleum Council offers a range of safety recommendations, maintaining temperature between 90 degrees and 120 degrees and providing maximum tank settling time prior to shipment, among other safety steps.
The report also recommends classifying the crude in the most volatile hazardous material packing group for shipping. If followed, the heightened classification may accelerate a push to newer, sturdier tank cars under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.
The report follows an analysis by the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers that also suggested Bakken crude is no more flammable or volatile than other light, sweet crudes, the Petroleum Council said.
However, a government report by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), said the Bakken crude may be more volatile than others crudes. The PHMSA’s conclusion is under dispute by industry groups.