Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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63 Fall 2015 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings Historically, the U.S. energy landscape has centered around oil imports, where supertankers transport millions of bar- rels of crude oil from the Middle East or other OPEC nations to refneries scattered along U.S. coasts. Recently, however, the Energy Renaissance that has focused on the North Dakota Bakken formation is changing this perception and forcing regulatory agencies and their rules to adapt. Recent high-profile incidents involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation has led to signifcant scrutiny of this crude. Much media attention has centered on the fery aftermath of incidents such as the July 2013 disaster in Canada, in which more than 40 people perished. As a result, many critics and even some experts began to question whether or not this crude oil was too "explosive" to transport. Unconventional Production and Transport Part of the problem is that not only is this oil being produced unconventionally through hydraulic fracturing, but it's also being unconventionally transported. A lack of pipeline infrastructure to transport the oil and the absence of viable waterways within the immediate vicinity of the oil produc- ing region have led to a signifcant amount of rail transport for this crude. Furthermore, port areas such as St. Louis and Albany (areas that have historically seen very little in the way of crude oil cargo) have seen large volumes of Bakken crude transported by rail. To attempt a solution, an enormous amount of attention has been given to the domestic regulations governing the rail transport of crude oil. The regulatory structure in place cov- ering Bakken crude maritime transport may play a big role in the years to come. These regulations, found in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations Subchapter D, specify safety and construction standards to ensure the safe carriage for fammable and combustible liquid cargoes carried in bulk. Characteristics Crude oil is a fammable liquid, which is any liquid that gives off fammable vapors at or below a temperature of 80°F. Flammable liquids are further divided into grades, based on Reid vapor pressure (RVP). 1 Combustible liquids are defned as any liquid having a fashpoint above 80 degrees F and are also further divided into grades (see table below). Vapor pressure is an important property of all fammable and combustible liquids. It measures the pressure exerted by the vapor of a volatile liquid when the vapor and liquid are in equilibrium. It can also provide a general measure of the volatility of a cargo. The Reid vapor pressure stan- dard, ASTM D323, is incorporated by reference in Title 46 CFR regulations, meaning that it is the required test method used to classify cargo grade. Vapor pressure can also pro- vide an indirect estimate of a volatile liquid's evaporation rate, where the higher the vapor pressure, the greater the New Crude Tests Regulatory Flexibility Bakken crude oil transport challenges. by lt AndrEW MurPhy Staff Engineer U.S. Coast Guard Hazardous Materials Division Adapting to New Crude Cargo Classifcation Table Grade Flashpoint (ºF) RVP (psia) A < 80 14 or more B < 80 above 8.5 but less than 14 C < 80 8.5 or less D 80 to 150 N/A E >150 N/A The cargo classifcation table notes the different grades of fammable and combustible liquids. Data from 46 CFR Part 30. All graphics courtesy of author.