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Wyoming: State officials not concerned with volatility of Bakken crude

Zach Koppang | Shale Plays Media

As oil production in the Bakken recently marched past its 1 millionth barrel, other states are left fretting about how to cope with the extra volatility of the oil being produced and shipped from North Dakota.

Wyoming state officials, however, are less concerned than other states about the nature of Bakken crude traveling through Wyoming’s rail system. While many other states are scrambling to update safety regulations, the emphasis of Wyoming’s rail safety arguments, or lack of, is due to several components of Wyoming’s oil production. The Casper Star Tribune reports:

The difference in tone here is the result of several factors. For one, Wyoming’s two major rail companies say they are not shipping the volatile variety of crude produced in North Dakota’s Bakken formation through the Cowboy State.

The lack of concern is also a reflection of the long history of oil and gas production in Wyoming. Emergency officials in the state have considerable experience dealing with shipments of hazardous materials.

Spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, Renny MacKay, stated the federal government should be responsible for the regulation of interstate rail traffic. Wyoming currently doesn’t have a railroad administration like other states, but Gov. Mead is tracking the rise in oil-by-rail shipments.

Related: Wyoming: Oil, well, there goes the neighborhood

Wyoming’s preparation for oil-by-rail accidents seem to be occurring mostly at the local level. BNSF has been training local officials how to respond to a rail accident involving crude oil and recently provided the Campbell County Fire Department, for example, with a trailer armed with special foam. Although safety officials at the local level may be taking steps toward emergency preparedness, it seems the variety of crude being shipped through the state varies too much between light and heavy to focus resources on combating incidents that have yet to occur.

Click here to read the full story at the Casper Wyoming Star-Tribune.

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