Industrial Commission hears comments on oil shipping rules – Bismarck Tribune

“The industry complies with much stronger standards in other states. For example in Texas, stabilization is done voluntarily by oil producers. It is time for the NDIC to act and put forth strong rules. Public safety is always the bottom line,” Bird Bear said.

Industrial Commission hears comments on oil shipping rules

The North Dakota Industrial Commission will be busy reviewing additional comments before making a final decision next month on proposed regulations meant to reduce volatility of crude transported from the state.

An extended comment period for submitting technical concerns over the proposed regulations unveiled last week expired at 5 p.m. Wednesday. No specific date has been set but a special meeting is expected to be held on or before Dec. 11 for final consideration.

The proposed regulations, if approved, would create standards for pressure and temperatures for production facilities to follow in order to effectively separate volatile gases from the crude. A small number of operators utilizing alternative methods would be subject to a hearing before the NDIC to gain approval of their method.

North Dakota Oil and Gas Division spokeswoman Alison Ritter said fewer than 10 had been submitted as of early Wednesday afternoon; however this was expected to change by the end of the day.

“Most of the comments will come in in the last hour or even in the last five minutes,” Ritter said.

The original order had been crafted following more than 1,100 pages of testimony and 33 comments from industry and interested individuals.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council was one group working to finalize its comments on Wednesday.

Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, reiterated concerns the group had had when the proposed regulations were unveiled last week.

“One of the unintended consequences are increased flaring,” Cutting said. “Any increase in flaring could be the difference between meeting the target and not meeting the target.”

The NDIC implemented rules earlier this year to rein in flaring, beginning with an initial benchmark of 26 percent by Oct. 1.

September’s state oil and gas production numbers put the current statewide flaring level at 24 percent. The next benchmark is 23 percent by Jan. 1, 2015 followed by 15 percent within two years and 10 percent within six.

She said the regulations could also result in increased emissions.

Cutting said the state should simply “set vapor pressure (standards) and allow the industry to meet it.”

Cutting added that providing flexibility, rather than micromanaging what temperatures industry uses in its oil treating equipment, would make the guidelines easier to follow.

In its current form the rules would require North Dakota crude oil to not exceed a Reid Vapor Pressure of 13.7 pounds per square inch; national standards require 14.7 psi.

The Dakota Resource Council submitted its comments Wednesday, which were developed by an oil and gas task force created by the group.

Oil and gas task force chairman Theodora Bird Bear said in a DRC statement the state shouldn’t have a problem enacting more stringent standards.

“The industry complies with much stronger standards in other states. For example in Texas, stabilization is done voluntarily by oil producers. It is time for the NDIC to act and put forth strong rules. Public safety is always the bottom line,” Bird Bear said.

The DRC had four suggestions in its comments:

  • Ban the mixing of natural gas liquids with crude oil.
  • Require there to be dedicated trucks and pipelines for shipping oil that’s had NGLs removed.
  • No additional flaring allowed.
  • Allow a share of NGLs produced in-state to be sold to North Dakotans at a discount.

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.

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