Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cities fear volatile Bakken crude; New Fed data on CBR movements

Cantwell, Spokane Leaders to Announce Oil Train Safety Plans

Senator to hear from first responders, tour downtown fire station near rail corridor that sees up to 16 trains per week

Media Advisory: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell   Press Office  202-224-8277

SPOKANE, WA – At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will join Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and local firefighters to announce next steps on Cantwell’s federal legislation to enact strong new safety standards for trains hauling flammable crude oil through Spokane and other cities in Washington state and across the country.

Cantwell will meet with firefighters at Spokane Fire Station #4 and see equipment that first responders would use to respond to potential derailments. Cantwell will also learn more about needs for training and equipment, and emergency response planning for potential oil train derailment.  Up to 16 trains pass through Spokane every week.

There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains since the start of February. On March 25, Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015. The legislation requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to draft new regulations to mitigate the volatility of gases in crude oil shipped via tank car and immediately halts the use of older-model tank cars that have been shown to be at high risk for puncturing and catching fire in derailments.

The bill also would authorize funding for first responder training, equipment and emergency preparedness.

Federal agency rolls out crude-by-rail data tracking

By Sarah Tincher, Energy Reporter      Mar 31, 2015    The State Journal

For the first time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has rolled out monthly data on rail movements of crude oil, becoming fully integrated with EIA's existing monthly petroleum supply statistics, which already include crude oil movements by pipeline, tanker and barge.

The data begins in January 2010 and continue through the current reporting month, January 2015. Crude-by-rail (CBR) activity is tracked between pairs of Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) regions, within each region and across the U.S.-Canada border.

“The new crude-by-rail data provides a clearer picture on a mode of oil transportation that has experienced rapid growth in recent years and is of great interest to policy makers, the public and industry,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. “EIA expects that the new data it has developed using information provided by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) along with data from other third-party sources and our own survey data, will provide key insights into oil-by-rail movements, including shipments to and from Canada.

“We welcome the cooperation of the STB as well as Canada's National Energy Board in making these data accessible,” he added.

According to the data, total CBR movements in the United States and between the United States and Canada were more than 1 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, up from 55,000 bbl/d in 2010.

Explore the data on EIA's website here: eia.gov/petroleum/transportation/

Tracking Danger: Crude Oil On Minn. Railways

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the last few years, rail road traffic through the Twin Cities has reached an all-time high. With the increased traffic there’s also been an increase in derailments, like the one we saw earlier this month in Ontario Canada. However it’s not the derailments that have many concerned, it’s what those trains are carrying — crude oil.

“We have an ongoing situation of course, where the railroads are highly congested right now with all types of freight,” Dave Christianson, senior planner for Minnesota’s rail and freight lines, said.

Christianson says on a daily basis 120 trains pass through some of Minnesota’s most populated areas, like north Minneapolis, the Como neighborhood and east St. Paul. It’s not the exactly the high traffic causing concern, it’s the cargo.

“Part of that is crude oil coming from Bakken [North Dakota] through the Twin Cities,” Christianson said.

It’s volatile material and if it spills in the Twin Cities it could be deadly, like in July of 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec where 47 people died when a train derailed in the center of town....   more here