Enbridge to take Bakken crude with sulfide gas, with advance notice

NEW YORK Mon May 20, 2013 6:29pm EDT

NEW YORK May 20 (Reuters) - Enbridge Energy Partners , which had threatened to close an oil rail loading terminal in North Dakota unless the content of potentially deadly sulfide gas in Bakken crude shipments was reduced, now says it will accept shipments of the crude if it is notified in advance.

In a government filing late on Friday, Enbridge said it will accept the crude shipments with advance notice, if it can safely accommodate the oil.

But Enbridge also said in the filing that should it receive crude with sulfide gas levels of greater than 5 ppm without its prior approval, it "reserves the right to shut down such injection facility and may seek reimbursement for any damages caused by the unauthorized delivery."

An Enbridge spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Enbridge's filing was a response to Plains Marketing, which ships oil on Enbridge's pipeline. Plains, part of Plains All American Pipeline LP, filed an objection with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) after Enbridge had sought to limit the sulfide gas content in the crude.

"Shippers must contact Enbridge at least three business days before the delivery of high H2S crude oil into the system," Enbridge said in the Friday filing.

On May 8, Enbridge had filed a request with FERC to restrict the amount of sulfide gas in crude delivered as soon as the next day.

That request came three days after a very large concentration of the gas was discovered in a tank at its 80,000 barrels per day crude rail terminal Berthold, North Dakota.

In small doses, hydrogen sulfide will irritate eyes, nose and throat. But the company said it found 1,200 ppm (parts per million) in one of its tanks.

"Exposure at 50 ppm or above could cause shock, convulsions, coma or death," Enbridge said in a May 14 filing in response to Plains, noting that at levels above 200 ppm, "respiratory failure can occur within seconds after only a few inhalations."

The company sought permission from FERC to limit the amount of the harmful gas in the delivered crude to 5 ppm.