| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 15 Enbridge Energy Partners
said it may be forced to shut down an 80,000
barrel-per-day (bpd) oil-loading rail terminal in North Dakota
unless the amount of potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide in
crude oil delivered to the facility can be reduced.
Last week, Enbridge asked for a ruling in one day from the
U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to restrict the
amount of hydrogen sulfide in the delivered crude. That request
came after a very large concentration of the gas was discovered
in a tank at Berthold, North Dakota, on May 5.
Plains Marketing, part of Plains All American Pipeline LP
, objected to Enbridge's request and asked FERC to reject
it. The company ships crude oil on Enbridge's North Dakota
system and into the Enbridge rail terminal.
In a filing late on Tuesday, Enbridge countered Plains'
objections, arguing that without the new limits its employees
who stand on top of rail tank cars to pump crude at its terminal
could be exposed to harmful vapors.
In small doses, hydrogen sulfide will irritate eyes, nose
and throat, the Enbridge filing said. 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 the filing, noting that at
levels above 200 ppm, "respiratory failure can occur within
seconds after only a few inhalations."
The company is seeking to limit the amount of the harmful
gas in the delivered crude to 5 ppm. Other pipeline companies
have a threshold of 10 ppm, Plains argued.
"....if the hydrogen sulfide continues to be present at the
levels found on May 5, 2013, the downstream rail facility served
by Enbridge North Dakota's Berthold terminal would have to shut
down its rail facility with 80,000 barrels a day of capacity,"
Enbridge said in the filing.
Tesoro High Plains Pipeline Co, which sits
downstream of the Enbridge North Dakota system, said last year
it would reject any crude with hydrogen sulfide content greater
than 5 ppm, Enbridge noted.
Rail shipment of crude has become an option for moving oil
out of high production basins with little pipeline access. It
has added to the recent narrowing of the spread, or price
differential, between the benchmark U.S. crude, West Texas
Intermediate, and global crude oil benchmark Brent, to its
smallest range in more than two years.
Phillips 66 signed up in March to ship 40,000
barrels per day of crude by rail from the Enbridge Berthold
North Dakota oil production hit a new high in March at
782,800 barrels a day, state government data showed on