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U.S. Regulators Say Oil Industry Withholding Data on Rail Crashes

Federal regulators said on March 28 that the oil industry was withholding key information related to the series of train derailments and explosions involving transporting crude oil. The Department of Transportation said that trade groups like the American Petroleum Institute vowed to share the results of tests on crude from the Bakken, but have thus far failed to do so.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said in January that oil from the Bakken could be more volatile and dangerous than conventional crude oil found elsewhere. However, they said that they needed more data and the industry agreed to make the results of tests available. But, as of March 28, according to Reuters, Transportation officials are unhappy with the industry’s cooperation.

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"Despite the energy industry making assurances to DOT more than two months ago, we still lack data we requested and that energy stakeholders agreed to produce," the agency said in a statement to Reuters on Friday. “The overall and ongoing lack of cooperation is disappointing, slows progress, and certainly raises concerns.” A spokesperson from the industry disagreed that oil and gas companies are dragging their feet.

According to Reuters, it appears that individual oil companies are not on the same page as their trade associations. “I told them that they have a choice to provide DOT the information directly or to work through the association that is in the process of providing a consolidated response,” said Richard Moskowitz, chief counsel for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. That mixed message has apparently led to some confusion among certain companies. Without all the data available, safety officials are not able to reach conclusions about how to treat crude oil being shipped by rail.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com



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