| NEW YORK, June 7
NEW YORK, June 7 Enbridge Energy Partners
is allowed to limit the amount of potentially harmful
sulfide gas in crude oil shipped on its pipeline into its Bakken
rail loading terminal in North Dakota, the U.S. Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled late on Thursday.
The company on May 8 had filed a request to limit the amount
of sulfide gas in crude received at its Berthold rail terminal
within one day after it found extremely high levels of the gas
in one of its storage tanks three days earlier.
Plains All American, Murex Petroleum Corp, Hess
Corp and Marathon Oil Corp had each filed
so-called motions to intervene in Enbridge's request, some of
whom cited concerns about how it will affect their business.
The high levels of gas discovered violated government
safety regulations, FERC said, and the agency placed the rule
into effect as of May 9.
Enbridge "reserves the right to reject crude that does not
contain a hydrogen sulfide content of 5 parts per million (ppm)
or less," FERC said. Under certain circumstances Enbridge could
accept crude with higher levels, the commission said.
Enbridge at one point had said if the amount of the
hazardous gas could not be limited, it may be forced to shut its
80,000 barrel-per-day oil-loading rail terminal.
Shipping crude oil by rail out of North Dakota has more than
doubled in the last three years due to a lack of pipeline
capacity connecting the state to refining markets.
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
"sets maximum exposure limits at either 10 or 20 ppm" with an
"absolute prohibition of exposure above 50 ppm," FERC noted.
Exposure to sulfide gas vapors at levels of 100 ppm can
cause death. Enbridge found 1,200 ppm in one of its storage
tanks. Exposure to "hydrogen sulfide levels of 700-1000 ppm
causes rapid unconsciousness, or immediate collapse within one
to two breaths and death within minutes."
Shippers may file a complaint if they think Enbridge's
procedures "are insufficient or are operating in a
discriminatory manner," FERC said.
The FERC realizes that placing such regulations into effect
and providing only one-day's notice to do so may cause "some
difficulties for shippers."
In this situation, "the Commission must place health and
safety concerns above commercial matters," it said.