In this week's news update, a rural town in North Dakota was evacuated after an oil train derails, EOG Resources could resume fracking if the price is right and the DOT announced final crude by rail rule


No one was injured and the small community of Heimdal, North Dakota, was evacuated following a derailment of a 109-car BNSF railway train Wednesday morning.

The train that derailed and caught fire early Wednesday near the rural North Dakota town of 20 residents was hauling crude oil from the Bakken.

The six tank cars that exploded were a model slated to be phased out or retrofitted by 2020 under a federal rule announced last week. The six cars were carrying approximately 180,000 gallons of oil, according to state officials. The intensity of the blaze prevented firefighters from directly attacking the flames and investigators haven’t been able to get close enough to determine how much of the oil burned off, spilled or remained in the cars.

Related: Blog: Could Government Regulations Hurt the Oil and Gas Industry?

There were preliminary indications that some oil from the derailed cars got into the Big Slough waterway near Heimdal, but it wasn’t officially verified, state officials said.

The crude in the cars was being shipped by the Hess Corporation, and regulators were seeking details on tests of the crude done by the Texas-based company prior to the accident.

It’s the fifth accident since February involving that type of tank car.

Related: Blog: Texas the Latest Victim of Fracking Phobia

EOG Resources Could Resume Fracking if Prices Continue Rebound

EOG Resources, an oil and natural gas producer in the Bakken, says it plans to begin fracking hundreds of wells in North Dakota and Texas later this year if oil prices stabilize around $65 per barrel.

Officials with the company announced the decision on May 4 after reporting a better-than-expected adjusted profit.

Related: Hitting Close to Home

EOG is the latest shale oil producer in the U.S. to peg increased operations to a specific dollar amount. Whiting Petroleum said last week that it would add drilling rigs to its portfolio if crude prices rise to $70 per barrel.

EOG has drilled new wells in recent months only to keep them idle by delaying fracking, part of a strategy to hold back pumping some crude after a roughly 40 percent drop in prices since October 2014.

Crude prices have inched up in the past month.

DOT Announces Final Crude by Rail Rule

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The final rule, developed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), focuses on improvements to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident and support emergency response to an accident.

Under the new rules, new cars constructed after Oct. 1 are required to meet the new DOT specification 117 design or performance criteria, which includes having a 9/16-inch tank shell, 11 gauge jacket, half-inch full-height head shield, thermal protection and improved pressure relief valves and bottom outlet valves.

The rule also requires high-hazard flammable trains to have in place a function two-way end-of-train device or distributed power braking system that will reduce the severity of an accident or pile-up effect, according to the DOT.


Related Stories