ND regulators consider oil stabilization policy

first_imgOn the WebVideo and stories from The Columbian’s trip to the North Dakota oil fields atcolumbian.com/crude/Most Clark County residents don’t pay close attention to the North Dakota Industrial Commission. But the three-member regulatory body has the authority to influence something increasingly familiar to Southwest Washington and the Northwest: oil trains.The commission this week heard testimony on whether crude oil extracted from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields should be “stabilized” before it’s transported by rail, and whether the process would make it safer. Stabilization strips flammable natural gas liquids from the oil, reducing its volatility, advocates argue.The question has gained particular scrutiny in the wake of a string of high-profile derailments and explosions involving crude oil since last year. Multiple reports and analyses have found Bakken oil to be more volatile than other crudes.A recent public hearing in Bismarck, N.D., drew a standing-room-only crowd, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources. But much of the hearing was dominated by oil producers who resisted calls to further stabilize Bakken crude before it’s transported. The companies maintain that the oil’s properties are largely the same as other crude sources.“Requiring stabilization beyond current conditioning practices would be a costly, redundant process that would not yield any additional safety benefits,” Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, told the industrial commission. Audio of the hearing was posted online.last_img

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