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Public hearing set for Tuesday on oil conditioning regulations

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Hauling coal, oil

Trains move through Mandan hauling coal and oil.

The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division will hold a public hearing on Tuesday about proposed changes to state regulations that aim to make Bakken crude oil safe for rail transportation.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission is considering changes to state’s oil conditioning order, which was adopted in 2015 following explosive train derailments. The order requires companies to remove the most volatile gases from Bakken crude and test the vapor pressure of crude oil to ensure it’s in compliance.

Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said the industry has conducted 60,000 vapor pressure tests since the regulations took effect. Helms told members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission in September that the vast majority of tests have been within the state’s limits.

The Industrial Commission proposes to eliminate a requirement for quarterly vapor pressure tests. Instead, the regulations would require the tests “pursuant to commission approved oil conditioning policy/guidance.”

The Oil and Gas Division received requests to hold a public hearing on the proposal, including a request from the Dakota Resource Council.

“It is Dakota Resource Council’s stance that the state needs to keep the current order in place in order to ensure rail cars carrying Bakken oil do not explode and endanger people, property and the environment along the rail lines,” wrote Scott Skokos, the group’s executive director.

The hearing is at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Oil and Gas Division, 1000 E. Calgary Ave. in Bismarck.

Participants can sign up to testify starting at 8 a.m. There is a 15-minute limit on testimony and no comments can be made by phone.

Audio from the hearing will be streamed online at

(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or


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