BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Industrial Commission is reducing the number of required vapor pressure tests that are aimed at making crude oil safer for transportation.

The commission will mandate that companies submit vapor-pressure tests twice a year instead of quarterly, prioritizing winter months when issues are more likely to occur, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The state requires companies to remove the most volatile gases from crude oil and test the vapor pressure to ensure it doesn't exceed 13.7 pounds per square inch.

Lynn Helms, a Department of Mineral Resources director, said the industry has conducted more than 60,000 vapor pressure tests and about one in 1,000 tests exceeded the state's limit since the guidelines took effect in 2005.

The new regulations will require one vapor test between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 and a second between Jan. 1 and March 31.

Helms also noted all pipeline companies and many rail facilities have implemented the state's vapor pressure limit.

Operators with contractual agreements that require them to meet the 13.7 psi limit could forego submitting vapor pressure tests if they submit documents authenticating the agreement they have with transporters. Regulators will conduct spot checks to ensure compliance, Helms said.

"By doing this, we're increasing the amount of vapor pressure testing that's going on, we're just not collecting all of those records," Helms said.

Critics of the changes include environmental group, the Dakota Resource Council. The group argues that if North Dakota's oil conditioning guidelines easily meet the standard, that's an indication that the requirements aren't tough enough.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,

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