COLUMN-Toxic gas in Bakken pipeline points to sour well problem: Kemp

Wed May 29, 2013 12:50pm EDT
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By John Kemp

LONDON May 29 (Reuters) - The discovery of perilous concentrations of hydrogen sulphide gas in a crude oil storage tank earlier this month has sparked a furious row between pipeline operator Enbridge and Bakken crude shippers including Plains Marketing and Murex.

On May 8, Enbridge Energy Partners made an emergency application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to amend its conditions of carriage to give it the right to reject crude containing more than 5 parts per million of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) (Docket IS13-273-000).

The pipeline operator made the application just three days after the vapours in one crude tank at Berthold terminal in North Dakota were sampled and found to contain H2S at an extremely high concentration of 1200 parts per million, more than enough to be fatal.

But the speed with which the company has sought to introduce new H2S limits, and its decision to impose more stringent ones than some other operators, have drawn a furious challenge from crude shippers who could be forced to shut in oil and gas wells as a result.


Hydrogen sulphide is a colourless, flammable and extremely hazardous gas formed by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, and is the most commonly occurring impurity in oil and especially gas fields.   Continued...