Armed with a report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), North Dakota officials on Tuesday urged federal officials to overturn Washington state’s ban that prevents Bakken Shale crude from being shipped by rail into the state.
The report, completed by DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories, found that North Dakota’s Bakken supplies were no different from volumes in other basins and do not require different regulations.
The Bakken crude is shipped through Washington for further transport to West Coast markets. Last year, North Dakota shipped 225,000-275,000 b/d by rail to the West Coast.
Sandia completed experiments with samples from tight oils in the Bakken and Permian basins, along with conventionally produced crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. All the tested samples “have comparable thermal hazard distances and the measured properties are consistent with other alkane-based hydrocarbon liquids.”
Last year, Washington passed Senate Bill 5579, which attempts to regulate interstate crude shipments. North Dakota challenged the legislation as violating the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Given several oil-by-rail train accidents over the last decade, some opponents have argued that Bakken oil is more subject to shipping accidents.
“There is no scientific basis for Washington state or other states to impose a defacto ban on our crude oil or require further regulations on its transport,” North Dakota’s congressional delegation said in a joint statement by Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong.
The legislators are urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to preempt the Washington legislation to protect interstate commerce.
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