New York county puts freeze on Bakken crude

Government officials in Albany County, NY, have issued a moratorium on Global Partners LP’s plans to increase the processing of Bakken crude oil at the Port of Albany pending a public health investigation by the county’s health department.

Though primarily targeting Bakken crude deliveries, the order, which was issued on Mar. 12, stipulates a county-wide moratorium on the heating of any type of crude oil, including volumes arriving from Canadian oil sands.

According to the order, the heating and storage of Bakken crude arriving to the port could pose a threat to the safety of county residents due to a combination of its extreme volatility and flammability as well as the inferiority of most of the tank cars used to rail those crude volumes into the county.

The order additionally places a moratorium on any expansion or increase in Global Partners’ current operations and on the initiation of any activities related to crude oil heating by any other companies, including but not limited to the construction or expansion of crude processing operations at the Port of Albany.

The moratoria are to remain in effect until the county health department concludes its investigation, the order states.

This latest order follows both a Jan. 29 executive order issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directing state agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of safety procedures and emergency response relating to crude oil shipments from North Dakota’s Bakken region as well as requests from local communities asking for a more public review of Global Partners.

In June 2013, Global Partners, which already operates a stationary bulk petroleum storage and transfer terminal in the Port of Albany, submitted an air permit modification request to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that, if approved, would allow the company to build several boilers at the port to be used to heat crude oil before it is off-loaded and shipped for refining, according to DEC and Albany County web sites.

According to a project description on DEC’s web site, Global Partners’ request, if granted, would lead to a net reduction of about 3,300 b/d of crude moving through the company’s port facility.

On average, 240 rail tank cars carrying about 85,000 b/d of Bakken crude currently moves on CSX rail lines through Albany County, the county says.

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