WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Three massive fires since the beginning of June have highlighted the threat lightning poses in the North Dakota oil patch, and in each case it was tanks that store the toxic saltwater associated with drilling — not the oil wells or drilling rigs — that were to blame.
The lightning-sparked fires destroyed the groups of silo-like storage tanks at the three locations, which are among more than 440 sites in North Dakota where so-called saltwater is stored before being pumped into permanent disposal sites miles underground. In each case, the fires burned for days, spewing noxious black smoke into the air and literally salting the earth.
An industry proposal to phase out old oil-carrying would aim to replace cars within three years of the program taking effect, a timetable that relies on swift development of the new cars, FuelFix reports.
Though the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of American Railroads agreed to a deal to phase out old crude-carrying train cars in exchange for safer ones, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers isn't on board, saying their members own many of the tank cars affected, Reuters reports.
SEATTLE (AP) — Two environmental groups are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to immediately ban shipments of volatile crude oil in older railroad tank cars, citing recent explosive oil train wrecks and the department's own findings that those accidents pose an "imminent hazard."
The petition filed Tuesday by the Sierra Club and ForestEthics seeks an emergency order within 30 days to prohibit crude from the Northern Plains' Bakken region and elsewhere from being carried in the older tank cars, known as DOT-111s.
The American Petroleum Institute and the Association of American Railroads have reached an agreement to make thicker tanker cars for shipping oil and schedule plans for retiring older cars; if the agreement is endorsed by the Transportation Department, it will become a key component of a larger rail safety overhaul, Reuters reports.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A string of fiery train derailments across the country has triggered a high-stakes but behind-the-scenes campaign to shape how the government responds to calls for tighter safety rules.
Billions of dollars are riding on how these rules are written, and lobbyists from the railroads, tank car manufacturers and the oil, ethanol and chemical industries have met 13 times since March with officials at the White House and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
MANDAREE, N.D. (AP) — Growing up, Ruth Anna Buffalo would follow the dirt track behind her house into the rugged North Dakota badlands, swimming in creeks picketed with beaver dams, finding artifacts and climbing bluffs overlooking Lake Sakakawea. For the young, the lake and the land around it were a wonderland.
Buffalo's grandfather, though, looked at the lake with pained eyes. Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' building of the Garrison Dam in the 1940s and '50s, it flooded out a significant portion of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and swallowed his town of Elbowoods. Families were forced to leave their homes for higher ground.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn Friday and said they would use some of the production for domestic purposes, further widening a split with the central government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The takeover of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields were the latest land grabs by Kurds, who have responded to the Sunni militant insurgency that has overrun large parts of Iraq by seizing territory of their own, effectively expanding the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north. Those moves have infuriated al-Maliki's government while stoking independence sentiment among the Kurds.
Launching personal attacks on environmental activists and celebrity supporters should be part of the oil and gas industry strategy if it wants to fight for expanded drilling, according to advice from consultant Richard Berman as he drums up support for his "Big Green Radicals" PR campaign, The New York Times reports.
The re-election contest for Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is attracting last-minute money -- including some from the American Future Fund for an ad extolling his support for the Keystone XL pipeline -- as polling indicates his race against Democrat Paul Clements is a tight one, The Hill reports.
In an effort to maintain Democratic control of the Senate, environmental groups are supporting some backers of the Keystone XL pipeline –- like Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina -– as well as fracking supporter Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Word that OPEC has boosted its crude output to a 14-month high sent oil prices plunging again early Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery dropped 1 percent, or 81 cents, to $80.31 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent was down 93 cents to $85.31, Bloomberg reports.
A tentative settlement Cheniere Energy has reached with shareholders over lawsuits would block executives from receiving shares authorized in February 2013 but not paid out, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, FuelFix reports.
Robert MacLean –- now a solar power consultant after he was fired by the Department of Homeland Security for leaking information about the air marshal program -– says many federal employees, including those in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy and Interior, could be affected by the outcome of his lawsuit now before the U.S. Supreme Court, E&E reports.
The capacity market and infrastructure improvements will be the topics of discussion at a conference between New York officials and representatives of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Nov. 5, Reuters reports.