Proposed legislation in Washington State would lower the allowed vapor pressure of crude oil from the Bakken traveling by rail to below 9 pounds per square inch, a measure that could block an important market for the shale play’s oil producers and trigger a range of transport issues for numerous petrochemicals.
That’s without, to this point, a firm scientific foundation to back it up.
“To date, there is a dearth of scientific data that conclusively correlates higher vapor pressure to the severity of consequences of a transportation incident,” Rachel Meidl, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute and former official at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), told Hart Energy.
“Although Bakken and other light crude are high in light-end paraffinic range hydrocarbons, when classified and transported in the appropriate packaging system, Bakken crude is as safe to transport as other crudes,” Meidl said. “Furthermore, Bakken crude does not exhibit appreciable differences when compared to other crude oil or flammable liquids that are authorized for rail transport.”