North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven recently expressed the need for funding to study the safety of oil and gas pipelines as a means to help secure the infrastructure needed to support the United States’ energy independence, according to United Press International (UPI).
In a statement, Sen. Hoeven said, “As we work towards building a comprehensive ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan for our country, it’s important to ensure that we build the right kind of infrastructure to support our energy needs, now and into the future.”
Since the beginning of North Dakota’s Bakken Shale boom, production has far surpassed the capacity of available, and often non-existent, infrastructure such as oil and gas gathering pipelines. In turn, the oil and gas industry has been forced to rely on shipment methods such as transporting Bakken’s sweet crude by rail. Across the North American continent, Bakken crude has been scrutinized for it’s volatility following a 2013 runaway oil train derailment in Quebec, killing 47 people, and numerous other explosive incidents.
The importance of studying the safety and integrity of pipeline infrastructure follows the uptick in planned pipeline projects for the Bakken region. As reported by UPI, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple stated last month that rail traffic of Bakken crude will likely decline as new pipelines come online. Three different pipeline projects are slated to be in service by 2018: the Sandpiper pipeline, Dakota Access and Upland. Combined, these transfer lines will provide an approximated capacity of 895,000 barrels per day.
Whiting petroleum is also actively working with other parties on the development of a pipeline that would link the Bakken formation to refineries in the Philadelphia area. The formation produces approximately 1.1 million barrels of oil per day and the lack of pipeline capacity means that almost 60 percent of the produced oil must be shipped by train.
Last week, Hoeven stated that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a federal agency, offered $2 million to fund university studies to examine pipeline integrity and safety. UPI reports that Hoeven commented, “We must ensure that our infrastructure is reliable, safe and efficient, and this grant will enable universities to do the innovative research that will do just that.”