Bakken oil isn't stabilized to make it less volatile, raising risks

|By:, SA News Editor

Energy companies invested hundreds of millions of dollars when they started extracting oil from shale formations in south Texas a few years ago to make the volatile crude was safer to handle, but the failure to do so at the Bakken shale is coming back to haunt the oil industry as the U.S. government seeks to prevent fiery accidents of trains containing North Dakota oil.

Only one stabilizer, which can remove the most volatile gases before transport, has been built in North Dakota and it hasn't begun operation, according to a WSJ review; if the government mandates the use of stabilizers, companies would have to make big investments in equipment which could slow Bakken's development.

Oil producers are fighting the perception that the biggest risks come from Bakken crude, almost all of which is moved by rail, but safety officials and lawmakers say the dangers extend far beyond North Dakota.

Top Bakken producers include CLR, EOG, KOG, WLL, HES, XOM, OAS, NOG, EOX, MRO.