Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wonder what a fire at an oil terminal port looks like? there's one happening now

Fire at Libyan oil port destroys up to 1.8 million barrels of crude

ReutersBy Ayman al-Warfalli and Ulf Laessing December 30, 2014   h/t Raven Moon

BENGHAZI, Libya/CAIRO (Reuters) - A fire raging for almost a week at Libya's biggest oil port of Es Sider has destroyed up to 1.8 million barrels of crude and damaged seven storage tanks, causing total damage of $213 million, a top oil official said on Tuesday.....

....Thinni's top oil official, al-Mabrook al-Buseif, told Reuters the fire had damaged seven tanks and destroyed up to 1.8 million barrels of crude - roughly four times Libya's daily production.
Two tanks have collapsed and two others are still on fire.....    read more here

Buncefield fire:

The Buncefield fire was a major conflagration caused by a series of explosions on 11 December 2005 at the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal,[1] an oil storage facility located near the M1 motorway in Hertfordshire, England.


more pictures here

Buncefield compilation, articles and pictures: Guardian


US clarifies oil export ban; Derailments in Alberta up 80%

Obama move on U.S. oil exports paves way for Canadian crude, too

Dec 30 (Reuters) - As the Obama administration issued landmark guidelines expected to open the door for selling more domestic shale oil abroad, it also likely smoothed the way for more Canadian crude to be shipped through U.S. ports.

Unlike crude produced domestically, oil from Canada is not limited by the longstanding U.S. ban on exports, and licenses to re-export foreign crude are granted routinely. However, many companies have been wary of such trade due to rules that prohibit mixing non-exportable domestic oil with foreign grades.....

.... On Tuesday, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security clarified .....that "a minimal amount of mixing may occur due to incidental contact in pipelines and/or storage tanks when foreign and U.S. origin-oil is sequentially transported or stored in the same pipeline or tank."...

.... Opportunities to re-export oil sands crude will expand significantly over the next few months [and].......will also offer opportunities for traders to blend abundant U.S. condensate - which under Tuesday's notice is now likely to be freely exported if it is minimally processed - with heavy diluted bitumen and Mayan crude, creating medium-grade oil more valuable than either of the original grades on their own, said Ed Morse, Global Commodities Strategist at Citigroup.....    more here


Despite Climate Warnings, New Export Rules Open Crude Oil Floodgates

The loosened regulations will reportedly 'please domestic oil drillers, foreign trade partners, and some Republicans'

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer    Common Dreams  12/31/14

Despite warnings about how such a move could accelerate climate change, the Obama administration has quietly loosened its regulations on crude oil exports, "opening the floodgates" for the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light crude, also known as condensate, to the rest of the world.

The obscure rule change by the Department of Commerce "will likely please domestic oil drillers, foreign trade partners and some Republicans who have urged Obama to loosen the export ban," Reuters reports.....    more here

Banff firefighters spray water to keep dust down from spilled fly ash

Banff derailment a warning sign of potentially 'disastrous' spill on the horizon: researchers

Reid Southwick, Calgary Herald      12/29/14

Trains resumed service through Banff National Park Sunday after a messy derailment in wildlife habitat, but authorities continued to clean up grains and potentially toxic cargo that spilled into a creek.

Fifteen Canadian Pacific cars fell off the tracks while crossing a bridge over 40 Mile Creek near Banff townsite early Friday with seven falling into the water below, spilling some of their contents.....

....[David] Schindler, an academic leader in aquatic research, said in an email the impact likely would have been far worse if the spill was farther upstream of the river.

“Like the Obed spill a year ago, I think this is a warning not to be so cavalier about environmental spills, whether they be from pipelines, trains or tailings ponds,” he said, referring to a big coal tailings pond spill in October 2013.

“Eventually we will have a spill in the wrong place and it will be disastrous.”....     more here

Total derailments* by province, 2010 to 2014**
Alberta: 99
British Columbia: 93
Ontario: 88
Saskatchewan: 51
Quebec: 45
Manitoba: 36
Newfoundland and Labrador: 6
New Brunswick: 4
Nova Scotia: 1
Prince Edward Island: 0

* Totals exclude rail yards and side tracks.
** 2014 data is current from January to November.
Source: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One year since fiery Casselton derailment - and other news

Charred remains from the December, 30, 2013, oil car derailment and explosion on the west side of Casselton.  David Samson / The Forum

It's been a year since fiery Casselton derailment brought focus on oil-by-rail safety

Each time a ruptured tanker exploded and shot flames hundreds of feet in the sky, the firefighters felt a pulse of heat on their faces. Hours later, the fire burned itself out.

A year later, reverberations from the derailment continue to spur changes. The mayor of Casselton, a farming community of almost 2,400, later would say the town had “dodged a bullet.”

The same could be said in Fargo, about 18 track miles to the east, and cities all around the nation along rail routes transformed into mobile pipelines carrying large shipments of volatile Bakken crude oil.....     more here

NPR: Casselton, one year later

audio at link[Editor: This NPR report mentions that recent new North Dakota regulations require “conditioning” the oil.  Note that the new rules fall short of calling for “stabilization” of the oil.  See Ron Schalow’s comment, including “This conditioning lowers the ignition temperature of crude oil—but not by much. It leaves in solution most of the culprit gases, including butane and propane….The only solution for safety is stabilization, which evaporates and re-liquefies nearly all of the petroleum gases for separate delivery to refiners. Stabilization is voluntarily and uniformly practiced in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas…” – RS]


Crews deal with a 15 car train derailment in Banff at the rail bridge over 40 Mile Creek.
Gavin Young / Calgary Herald

Crews try to contain ash spilled in Alberta train derailment   12/29/14

BANFF, Alta. -- Crews are trying prevent coal ash waste that was spilled by Canadian Pacific Railway cars from fouling the waters of a creek in Banff National Park.

The material known as fly ash was in some train cars that derailed Friday into 40 Mile Creek near the resort community.

Parks Canada spokesman Bill Hunt says CPR crews have hauled out all but one of the cars containing fly ash from the water....   more here


Ash spilled in train derailment could harm fish in Banff creek

Reid Southwick, Calgary Herald    12/30/14

Authorities are concerned about the long-term health of fish in a Banff creek after a freight train derailed last week, spilling several hundred tonnes of potentially toxic cargo into the water and surrounding area.

A Parks Canada official said Monday much of the spilled fly ash — a byproduct of coal production that can disrupt the local ecosystem — has settled to the bottom of 40 Mile Creek.....    more here

Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane

December 29, 2014 Washington Post     h/t Mike Dickerson
The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud, so vast that scientists questioned their own data when they first studied it three years ago. “We couldn’t be sure that the signal was real,” said NASA researcher Christian Frankenberg......  more here

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Unit trains of tar sands oil routed through Washington and Oregon

In Kalamazoo  over 800,000 gallons of oil made it's way into the Kalamazoo river. 

Ed note: This article raises more questions than it provides answers: what are the Washington routes? have the rail bridges along them been structurally inspected for safety? does the Dept. of Ecology have a response plan in place? do First Responders and local communities know what is passing by? and when??

New crude oil trains from Canada arrive in California 

Union Pacific railroad officials confirmed last week they are now transporting full trains of Canadian oil through Northern California on a route that likely cuts through central Sacramento....

.... UP said new shipments into California from Canada started in late November, running through Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

“We expect to run crude trains on this route moving forward,” UP’s Aaron Hunt wrote.

The trains from Canada likely carry tar sands, also called bitumen, which is considered less flammable than the Bakken oil from North Dakota. Bakken oil has been involved in a several major rail explosions in the last few years, including one that killed 47 people in a Canadian town. State safety officials say tar sands, viscous and heavy, are a threat to waterways because the material can sink, making spills hard to clean. A bitumen spill from a ruptured pipe forced closure of 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010 and required $1 billion in cleanup costs over a three-year period....    read more here

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Law Gives CA Emergency Planners Oil By Rail Information

Smoke rises from an oil tank fire in Es Sider port December 26, 2014. A fire at an oil storage tank at Libya's Es Sider port has spread to two more tanks after a rocket hit the country's biggest terminal during clashes between forces allied to competing governments, officials said on Friday. Picture taken December 26, 2014.  REUTERS-Stringer 
 Smoke rises from an oil tank fire in Es Sider port December 26, 2014.

New Law Gives CA Emergency Planners Oil By Rail Information

Amy Quinton   December 24, 2014  Capital Public Radio News
A new law that goes into effect January 31 in California requires railroads to give more information to emergency planners about crude oil shipments.....

....Under the new law, railroads will have to submit weekly schedules of trains, and the volumes of crude oil they carry. They would also have to set up a communications center for first responders and give local authorities access to emergency plans. ....   more here


Today's links:

Effects of fracking on the health of children-  video

Oil Jobs Squeezed as Prices Plummet   Wall Street Journal    (comments from naked capitalism)-  As we predicted. The Journal still sees lower oil prices as a net plus for the US, but this view does not factor in credit market dislocation and whackage to pension funds and retirement accounts. We need to see how bad the downside is as what the second-order effects are to be sure this nets out as a plus.  

.... to prevent a fire spreading out of control at Es Sider, the country's biggest oil port, ... government, said the fire had spread to a total of five oil tanks