Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation

Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom 144

Posted by timothy
from the because-they-faw-down? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Marcus Stern and Sebastian Jones report on Bloomberg that as federal regulators continue investigating why tank cars on three trains carrying North Dakota crude oil have exploded in the past eight months, energy experts say part of the problem might be that some producers are deliberately leaving too much propane in their product, making the oil riskier to transport by rail. Sweet light crude from the Bakken Shale formation has long been known to be especially rich in volatile natural gas liquids like propane and while there's no way to completely eliminate natural gas liquids from crude, well operators are supposed to use separators at the wellhead to strip out gases before shipping the oil. The worry is that some producers are adjusting the pressure settings to leave in substantial amounts of natural gas liquids and purposefully selling their crude "fluffed up" with propane to maximize their profits." (Read more, below.)
"'There is a strong suspicion that a number of producers are cheating. They generally want to simply fill up the barrel and sell it—and there are some who are not overly worried about quality,' says Alan J. Troner. 'I suspect that some are cheating and this is a suspicion that at least some refiners share.' As an oil train shakes, rattles and rolls toward the refinery, the propane begins to separate from the liquid and turning into gas. If one of those cars ruptures, the propane gas inside will likely make contact with outside air. If the gas is ignited—perhaps by a spark thrown off when the car rips open or maybe a spark thrown up from steel wheels scraping over steel tracks—the car can explode. Then the burning car can act like a blowtorch on the tanker next to it and at that point, railcars can explode in domino fashion. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued a safety alert that recent derailments and resulting fires indicate that the type of crude oil being transported from the Bakken region may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil. 'It's typical of this type of oil. So it's not surprising. There's no mystery to it especially if it were in a tanker not meant to carry that type of fluid,' says Ramanan Krishnamoorti referring to the much-criticized DOT-111, a black, torpedo-shaped railcar designed in the 1960s that has become the workhorse of the crude-rail industry. Washington doesn't appear to be in a rush to address the problem. On January 23, investigators at the US National Transportation Safety Board made broad recommendations that would have big consequences: They said crude oil should meet the same restrictions as toxic chemicals, which must be routed on tracks away from population centers. 'The large-scale shipment of crude oil by rail simply didn't exist 10 years ago, and our safety regulations need to catch up,' says NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. 'While this energy boom is good for business, the people and the environment along rail corridors must be protected from harm.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom

Comments Filter:
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:34AM (#46439241)

    Why should crude oil be carried to the refineries on closed tank cars on trains anyway? That seems dangerous. Don't we have pipelines going to the refineries for that purpose?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

      • by Phydeaux314 (866996) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:42AM (#46439279) Homepage

        Pipelines have their own share of problems: Leaks, maintenance access, property arguments, security difficulties, animal migrations, the list goes on. They're definitely *a* solution, but not necessarily *the* solution.

        If the suspicions of the folks in the article are correct, then it's simply a case of the manufacturers trying to take advantage of the fact that contents are sold by volume, not by weight... with the minor caveat that the extra volume has a tendency to explode. The real solution, then, would be to smack the greedy bastards pulling the stunt and ensure the oil is separated enough to safely transport.

        • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @10:03AM (#46439351)

          If the suspicions of the folks in the article are correct, then it's simply a case of the manufacturers trying to take advantage of the fact that contents are sold by volume, not by weight...

          Sure it's about wringing more profits out of each tanker load.

          FTA: The liquified gas is worth more repurposed as crude than it can be sold for as methane or propane.

          But it also lowers the API gravity measurement (think light versus heavy crude), possibly improving the value of the entire shipment.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            I'm not sure how things happen in North America, but there would be no profit motive in the rest of the world. We buy crude based on a marker price + premium. If your crude is like WTI then its priced like WTI. If your crude is like WTI but with more worthless gas then it's priced like WTI - a certain fixed penalty.

            More importantly if your crude is sold and then doesn't meet the specs (it is analysed on the way into refineries) then most sane contracts are written to punish the seller.

            I don't understand wh

            • With all due respect, though their plans might ultimately include this final destination, all of the greedy assholes in the World haven't made it to America yet
            • In the US oil typically sells at a marker price MINUS a differential. There are many different small oil markets in the US crude market. Few operators get WTI prices outside of Texas and OklahomaNote that Williston Basin (Bakken) is one of the lower prices. One reason these operators now prefer to use rail is that they are selling to West Coast and East Coast refineries like Seattle and New Jersey where they get much higher prices than the Midwest US. Here are crude oil prices for 3/07 in $/bbl. West T
              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                Yeah I understand the reasons behind all that (I'm in the industry) but what I don't understand is that the article is implying that they are putting the gas in with the crude discretely as a way to increase the volume of the crude for the same price.

                Why wouldn't this be reflected in the differential? Everywhere else in the world it is. A few Malaysian crudes are notorious for being off spec when they arrive to the point where some of them have been black listed by some Australian refineries. Sorry I won't

                • I am saying the tank cars explode because the crude has more volatiles in it. That is the current hypothesis anyway. And I agree with you that the refinery probably penalizes them for higher natural gas liquids content. So despite what the article says this is probably not a devious plan to get more money by "watering down" the crude. It is a way of avoiding the hassle and expense of getting rid of the NGL in an area that has no infrastructure for that. That is the problem that needs to be solved, and perh
          • But it also lowers the API gravity measurement (think light versus heavy crude), possibly improving the value of the entire shipment.

            I think you have that backwards. Higher API gravity means lighter, sweeter crude which is more valuable than heavy crudes which have API gravity measurements less than 20.

            Perhaps you were thinking of "specific gravity" instead of "API gravity".

        • by jythie (914043)
          Yeah, but you forget how "personal responsibility" works in the US. You would think that the owners and operators of these plants should take personal responsibility for their actions and the damage done by them skirting the rules, but that is not the American ethos. Personal responsibility is your ability to drive your own fate, not how you impact others. Therefor the blame here lies on the people who were too poor to live further away from the tracks. The owners acted ethically since they managed to
          • by Reziac (43301) *

            This forgets that as a rule, the tracks came first, then the towns grew up around them. This is also frequently the case with refining operations.

            So now who is personally responsible??

        • Explosive greed might be the term that fits. Another example of big business being more than willing to kill people to make another penny or two.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, just another example of Free Market Capitalism (tm) at work once again, enhancing the quality of life for millions--except of course for the ones it kills, poisons, or causes to live under dictatorships friendly to US business interests. I guess we could put in place regulations about this sort of thing, but then we'd be "killing jobs" or "punishing the job creators" or some other claptrap like that.

          Oh, and that pipeline--you know, the environmental disaster that's also an assault on the property rig

          • The Obama administration recently completed the THIRD environmental impact study of the pipeline. Like the first two, it concluded that piping oil is better for the environment than what's happening now - rail cars crashing, leaking , occasionally exploding , while burning tons of diesel to power the trains.

            • by kyrsjo (2420192)

              Why not electrify the main rail routes, like most non 3rd world country did 50 years ago? That would also not only benefit the oil trains.

              • Let me guess, you live in a densely populated city, in a small country. (Where small means smaller than a US state, such as Texas.) Electric makes sense when you have many trains on relatively short tracks, so that a train passes every few minutes. US commuter systems like New York's subway benefit from being electric.

                North Dakota is over 2,000 kilometers from the destination, the refineries south of Houston. Between the two locations, you'll find Dallas and a bunch of cattle. Not much else, just cattle a

                • by kyrsjo (2420192)

                  I come from a relatively small country population-vise, but not so small distance-vise - it's about 1700 km end-to-end on a great circle, although the part which is built out with a network of electrified rail is only about 700 km end-to-end. So the electrified train network spans (as in the shortest distance between the two furthest apart points) the about the same distance as Texas, measured east-west. Not all of this is heavily trafficked (although most places see much traffic than one train/day, both go

      • by rossdee (243626) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:46AM (#46439293)

        Obama can only stop the pipeline crossing the border from Canada. If they want to build it from ND to the Gulf refineries he couldn't do anything about it.

        But they should be building refineries in North Dakota, thats where the oil is, (and they could be fueled by natural gas which is also in abundance.
        Why send the oil all the way to the gulf, when the refineries there might have to shut down at times due to hurricanes (more likely due to global warming these days) and then ship it back north as refined product. Refine it in ND and then the Midwest can have sheaper gas.

        We don't need no stinking CA tar sand oil.

        Anyway the oil train that blew up was hit by another freight train that derailed due to the extreme cold.

        • they should be building refineries in North Dakota

          Refineries cost about $10B each, take years to build, and a very long time to amortize the costs. Also, is it any safer to transport volatile products like gasoline? (serious question - I don't know).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by russotto (537200)

          Obama can only stop the pipeline crossing the border from Canada. If they want to build it from ND to the Gulf refineries he couldn't do anything about it.

          Of course he could. It's interstate, so it wouldn't even be at all difficult.

          But they should be building refineries in North Dakota,

          Ha ha, build a refinery? In the US? With the EPA and every environmental group in the world standing in the way?

          Anyway, you build a refinery and now you have to move the refined product, which means instead of moving one p

          • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @10:54AM (#46439633)

            But they should be building refineries in North Dakota,

            Ha ha, build a refinery? In the US? With the EPA and every environmental group in the world standing in the way?

            One is being built in North Dakota right now [breakingenergy.com]. It should be in operation by the end of the year.

            In other news, you and the person you responded to should take ten seconds to do a Google search before making fools of yourselves in public.

            • They're a couple of refineries each handling about 20,000 bbl/day, but the Bakken fields produce about 1,000,000 bbl/day. The refineries are mostly to produce diesel, for which there has been a big surge in demand in the Bakken fields due to all the work being done there. If the pipeline does get built, they'll also be useful for dilutants.

              This is not to refute your point that you can build new refineries. However it does not refute my point that construction of new large "general purpose" refineries may no

              • Also, given the expected life cycle of the Baaken fields (30 years or so), their isolation compared to the rest of the country along with the costs of a 'general purpose' refinery, putting those large plants there makes little sense. Of course the industry has looked at this carefully.

                The mini refineries are getting to the point where they can be trucked in, bolted together and disassembled later. But they can't make the variety of products that a 'real' refinery can and cannot be easily modified for diff

                • Of course the industry has looked at this carefully.

                  No? I thought they threw darts at a map while blindfolded. As, apparently, does rossdee (243626).

          • by jythie (914043)
            The EPA actually stopping something? You are kidding, right? They are little more then a rubber stamping boogie man that exists as a political punching bag. For actually protecting the environment from anyone with enough cash they are useless.
          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            The reason more refineries haven't been built in the USA is because we already have enough. The ones that exist have had no problem keeping up with demand. It wouldn't surprise me if some existing refineries have been upgraded to higher capacity though.

            • It wouldn't surprise me if some existing refineries have been upgraded to higher capacity though.

              This happens.

              The recent big example was when Motiva completed the expansion of their Port Arthur refinery. They added 325,000 barrels/day of capacity. If that were built as its own refinery, it would have been the tenth largest in the US. Since it added to an existing refinery, it bumped the refinery up to the largest in the country.

        • by dk20 (914954)
          We don't need no stinking CA tar sand oil.
          You sure about that? Take a look at how much oil the US imports from canada.
          http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pe... [eia.gov]
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Why send the oil all the way to the gulf, when the refineries there might have to shut down at times due to hurricanes (more likely due to global warming these days) and then ship it back north as refined product.

          What makes you think they want to ship it back north as a refined product?
          The point of getting oil to the gulf is that the refined byproducts can easily be put on a boat to China.

          Gas & Oil in the midwest is already cheaper than the national average, because they don't have any pipelines to move it somewhere with a higher profit margin.

          We don't need no stinking CA tar sand oil.

          Not only do the Chinese want it, they'll pay more for it than we will.
          This isn't about the domestic priorities of the USA, it's about multinational oil companies trying to

        • by drewsup (990717)

          i think Warren Buffet may argue against you, seeing how he owns most of the train oil cars, and is known to have Obama's ear.

        • "Obama can only stop the pipeline crossing the border from Canada. If they want to build it from ND to the Gulf refineries he couldn't do anything about it." Wrong! As soon as a pipeline crosses a state line it is regulated by the Federal government and will require approval from Federal regulators. FERC commission members are all appointed by the President. Obama has total control over this, subject only to Senate approval of the appointees.
      • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:53AM (#46439315) Journal

        They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

        Not just Obama, but the by anti-oil people. They think by blocking the pipeline, they will be reducing CO2 in our atmosphere. The sad part is, they are actually INCREASING the amount of CO2 and other pollutants.

        Rather than move the oil from Canada to Texas via an electric powered pipeline, they are forcing the oil to be loaded onto trains, where they are transported to a port where they are loaded onto an oil tanker where they will be transported to China. All of these modes of transportation are diesel powered. Once in China, they will be refined by Chinese workers under Chinese environmental regulations into various petroleum products. Then they are loaded back onto tankers and shipped around the world, with all profits going to the Chinese government.

        Or, we could transport the oil to Texas refineries, where we have control over the emissions the refineries emit, by a pipeline using electrical pumps.

        Tell me which option makes more environmental sense (not to mention the economic sense!)

        • Crude oil is not as safe as solar energy or wind energy. The oil industry should pay the full cost of making it as safe as the renewables, not just in transportation. But also in extraction, in waste by products, pollution in extraction, pollution by use, pollution in transportation, in every aspect, the oil industry should pay the full true cost of being as safe as solar. That is the true free market of level playing ground.

          It is true pipelines would transport oil using less carbon emissions compared to

          • sorry for a couple of typos. as easily as china in one case. prey not pray in another case.
          • by ArcherB (796902)

            _It is true pipelines would transport oil using less carbon emissions compared to rail transport. But they also reduce transportation costs, thus allow more oil to be used and allow oil to undercut renewable sources of energy. So it makes sense to oppose the pipelines._

            No. No it doesn't. You are intentionally trying to make oil more painful so people won't use it. This only makes sense when there are viable alternatives. Sorry, but wind and solar won't get the oranges from the groves in Florida to marke

            • by ultranova (717540)

              Sorry, but wind and solar won't get the oranges from the groves in Florida to markets in Maine.

              A solar-powered zeppelin might. Automate it, and it might even be economical; let drones hitch rides for a small fee, attaching and detaching (and charging) en-route, and it might be profitable enough to launch a new industry. And didn't Amazon plan to start delivering books by drones?

              The whole reason America (and the rest of the world) relies so heavily on trucking is that airplanes use a lot of fuel, while rail

            • by pnutjam (523990)
              _ Any single rail accident would spill far less oil than a spill or break in the oil pipeline._ Are you sure about that? Remember, that we are not just talking about rail, but also tankers that will take the oil across the ocean to China. Then, of course, the Chinese will refine it, using God knows what kind of environmental safeguards. Once it is refined, it will be loaded back into a tanker or pumped through Chinese pipelines. Still think this is a better idea than a single pipeline to US regulated refine
          • by jythie (914043)
            Yeah, but baring the costs of your actions is pretty out of fashion. Right now american ethos is built around the idea of protecting yourself from others and controlling your own fate. However how you impact others is considered their own fault for not stopping you, thus it is considered ethical for the oil industry to do whatever it likes as long as it is its own master and it is the fault of the people hurt by it because they are immorally poor and weak enough to not move.
        • by rhodie (61831)

          Not just Obama, but the by anti-oil people.

          Not just the anti-oil people, but the people who own those railroads you speak of... Oh, right, Warren Buffet...

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

        • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @11:55AM (#46439917) Journal

          Then they are loaded back onto tankers and shipped around the world, with all profits going to the Chinese government.

          What makes you think we hate the Chinese government so much that we would let all those profits going to the oil companies? There are no "our" oil companies. The oil companies would betray American interests and work to the detriment of America as easily as the international oil companies. In fact these oil companies have more than a century of manipulating our governments, our industries,our societies, our media. They had formed secret cartels to destroy the public transportation infrastructure of America. They have insidiously worked to increase urban sprawl to enrich themselves. They have whipped up public opinion to get us into wars.

          The oil industry saw how easily we beat Iraq in 1992 booting Saddam out of Kuwait. They salivated at the idea of throwing Saddam out, installing a puppet and get all the Iraqi oil at cheap rates for their cronies. We are still paying the price for that war in terms of money and in terms of hostility to America from the Middle East.

          Between the multinational oil companies and China, I would say the oil companies are the bigger threat. China has to fight a nuclear war to beat us. Oil companies would corrode us from inside out feeding on us like a wasp nymph feeds on a live but sedated pray.

          • by dryeo (100693)

            What makes you think that China can't use the same means as the oil companies to manipulate the government and people. They aren't stupid and must know that both the government and media are for sale and they have lots of dollars.
            All I can think of a defence is diversity and not depending on any powerful entity too much.

        • They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

          Not just Obama, but the by anti-oil people. They think by blocking the pipeline, they will be reducing CO2 in our atmosphere.

          There's more though. Arab oil-producing companies have been found backing environmental groups, to fight the introduction of new supply into their markets, which would depress prices. Then there's the owners of the railroads, who would lose out if the pipe network was expanded. If I remember correctly, BSNF railway ships much of the recent inland oil development, and it's owned by Warren Buffet, a notable supporter of Obama. Buffet (again IIRC) has come out in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, but who kn

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Arab oil-producing companies have been found backing environmental groups, to fight the introduction of new supply into their markets, which would depress prices.

            Of course, the actual effect of this is to ensure North America gets to keep its reserves until later, when both the need and price will be even higher. At the same time, higher oil prices encourage investment into alternative means of energy, possibly allowing the entire supply to be exported at that time - and thus used as a geopolitical bargain

        • They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

          Not just Obama, but the by anti-oil people. They think by blocking the pipeline, they will be reducing CO2 in our atmosphere. The sad part is, they are actually INCREASING the amount of CO2 and other pollutants.

          Don't forget that OPEC countries have been found financing anti-Keystone XL 'environmental' groups as a means to keep competition out of their oil markets and keep prices up. Then there's the railway owners, who would lose out if a pipeline was built. Much of the inland oil development is shipped by BSNF, a Berkshire-Hathaway company. Buffet is an Obama supporter who has publicly supported Keystone XL, but who knows what deals are going on behind closed doors? (my apologies if this is a repeat post, the la

        • by zentec (204030) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .cetnez.> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @12:54PM (#46440217)

          My experience is that anyone in favor of processing this sludge into energy has never even seen photos of the area around the Detroit Marathon refinery or the waterfront along the Detroit river where the processing by-product of coke-tar is stored. Yeah, they store that crap right on the shores of the headwaters of Lakes Erie and Ontario; the water supply for millions of people in two countries.

          It isn't about anti-oil, I don't disagree the world needs oil. I need oil. This is about a form of it that is just beyond nasty to obtain and process. No one wants the coke-tar, it is stored in huge uncovered piles around Detroit getting blown into neighborhoods on both sides of the river. The plan has been to sell that stuff to China, but so far no takers. Their "plan" to mitigate the dust is to spray with with water, and just where do you think the runoff flows? If they can't sell this waste in Detroit with quick convenient access to steel mills, cement and power plants, do you think Houston will have better luck?

          It is all fine and well to sit from my position in rural Michigan and say "hell yeah, turn that spigot on and gimme my $2 a gallon gasoline". But I can't; I've seen it and it is an ugly view into the future where we just don't care about larger swaths of land and the people that live there. I'm just done with the mentality of energy at any cost. If the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't affect your opinion, take a stroll and smell the coke-tar. This is a greedy grab of the last scraps of energy and the environment and people's health be damned in the process.

          Oil spills from pipeline problems happen, just ask the people in Grand Rapids Michigan who are still dealing with the cleanup in the Kalamazoo river from Enbridge Energy's pipeline break. This too is Canadian tar sand oil, making its safe transit through the United States for processing.

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          I would prefer the KXL pipeline doesn't get built but in the end I'm not sure it matters. This is a problem that needs to be tackled from the demand side. As long as there is strong enough demand the supply will be provided one way or another (until it runs out or gets to costly to use). If demand is reduced enough the KXL just becomes another albatross.

      • by McGruber (1417641)

        The Wall Street Journal just ran an article about why shipping oil by rail is more profitable than shipping by pipeline:

        In Dakota Oil Patch, Trains Trump Pipelines - Flexibility of Shifting Crude to Higher Priced Markets Strands Proposed Projects (March 3, 2014) [wsj.com]

        Basically, shipping the oil by rail costs more, but using a train gives the oil producer the flexibility to ship to the refinery that will pay them them most for the oil. Shipping by pipeline only allows the producer to ship the oil to the refine

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

        Please, tell us about how the Keystone pipeline will be carrying North Dakota Sweet Crude. Tell us how that is an exact equivalent to the tar shale crude that the Keystone Pipeline.

        More to the point, give us the citations on how The President personally stopped the North Dakota sweet crude by personally not allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built.

        This is why no one pays attention to you asshats. Now go back to Fox News to get your daily dose of affirmation. They'll tell you what you know.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Another obvious answer, vent the tanker cars.

      • How safe is it to vent propane and other natural gases?

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          I am only speculating here but in terms of short term consequences probably pretty safe. Automobile tanks used to simply be vented, until that was stopped for environmental and health reasons.

          Most people are not sitting in traffic with a bunch of tanker cars though, so the health issues would probably be minor. Gasoline vapors are pretty volitle and I don't recall cars exploding left and right in the past, so I think it would help the fire risk issue on the whole, especially if the trains pneumatic system

      • That is not a doable solution. You don't want the natural gas, propane, etc, but you DO want volatiles that are in the oil to use for fuel. Also, again they'd be lowering the calculated volume of the oil, and get less money for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reboot246 (623534)
      There are already thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines in the country. The Keystone pipeline would be much newer and safer than the older lines. It would be built with today's steel technology, not steel from the 50s or 60s. The older oil pipelines are the ones to be concerned about - they are already seeping oil into the ground. Replacing the old pipelines would indeed be a "shovel-ready" job, but nobody is talking about that.

      One of the main reasons oil from Canada is being transported by rail inste
      • by Anonymous Coward

        "We" could also learn that tar sands really shouldn't be used to make oil from, as the whole project is stupid. Instead, just start driving energy efficient cars, as that'd easily make up the "loss" in oil production.

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        You mispelled "steal technologies"

        -now with irony-
    • by pesho (843750)
      First, read the TFA. Building infrastructure (new plants and pipelines) does not make much economic sense for regions producing oil or gas from shale. The reason is that the production from shale wells tends to drop down sharply, so the infrastructure is likely to become underutilized before it has payed for itself. Second, explain how shipping through a pipeline addresses the problem with volatile gases being present at higher amounts than they should be in the crude oil? Wouldn't this make the pipeline mo
  • is an arrow in the quiver of the pipeline proponents.
  • oil companies make by fluffing the oil with propane. The insurers will catch on, raise their rates, and the problem will correct itself. For once the insurance company interests and those of society at large are aligned.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I don't understand why the problem hasn't corrected itself already. Oil is sold based on it's properties and in relation to a market price on the world market. I.e. this product may be lighter than West Texas Intermediate and therefore be priced as WTI + $x. But when it hits the refineries and is found full of propane then the value drops considerably the original well is fined for the difference in quality and future trading prices drop. Oil is after all fungible.

      There must be some very strange fixed contr

  • I have a hard time believing crude in tank cars is measured by volume and not weight. By the very nature of the components of crude, with things liken propane, hydrogen, kerosene, etc, weight would make much more sense.
  • Saw a story yesterday that said the gas product is being refined to the minimum possible level to allow it to be exported for foreign sale. New mini-refineries are being built on the Gulf Coast for just this purpose.
  • So, instead of protests *for* better regulation and better technical equipment, all we'll see are protests *against* oil.

    As usual, the power hungry activists will not attempt to solve the problem, but instead use the problem to gain more power for themselves. I have never seen any activist trying to solve the problem they are protesting. The protests are just their PR campaigns to get more political power. Saving people's lives? It's not about protesting against exploding tank cars, it's about protesting ag

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      So, instead of protests *for* better regulation and better technical equipment, all we'll see are protests *against* oil.

      Try reading the comments before commenting on the comments. There is not such thing here. The only ones being irrational here are you preemptively defensive oil shills. Please wait with being defensive only someone attacks your position.

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        First: If I was an "oil shill" I'd know about it. I'm not.

        Second: If I said it *after* the protests start, then you'd say that what I said is worthless, because I said it after the fact.

        I'm not being defensive. It's just activists using circular reasoning and self-defeating arguments all the time.

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        Also, I guess I'd be the first "oil shill" arguing for more governmental regulation. Don't you think so?

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      A newer, safer tank car has been designed and is available but the railroads don't have any mandate to use it and are only slowly replacing the thousands of older models as they age out of the fleet.

  • by fostware (551290) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @12:00PM (#46439943) Homepage

    Screw trains. Tell us why American cars' petrol tanks explode when all four tyres leave the ground...

    Is it static, do you need one of those rubber strips hanging off every car? Should they be a requirement for police vehicles, especially?

    It must be true, I see it on TV *ALL* the time!!!

  • Just trust the free market to correct this bad practice. You know, a 100 million dollar fine for a practice that save them a billion. Should work perfectly

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

Working...