The American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group that
represents oil industry companies, disputed the accusations.
In letters to regulators and testimony to lawmakers, leaders of
trade groups like the API have said since January that they will
share results of their tests on fuel from North Dakota's booming
Bakken oil patch, where the derailed trains were loaded.
But the Department of Transportation said the industry has dragged
its feet in cooperating with regulators who are trying to understand
why several recent derailments of freight trains carrying crude oil
also resulted in explosions.
"Despite the energy industry making assurances to DOT more than two
months ago, we still lack data we requested and that energy
stakeholders agreed to produce," a DOT spokeswoman told Reuters in a
written statement on Friday. "The overall and ongoing lack of
cooperation is disappointing, slows progress, and certainly raises
Officials have been scrutinizing North Dakota rail shipments since a
derailment in July in the Canadian town of Lac Megantic killed 47.
Other derailments in North Dakota and Alabama prompted more
API President and CEO Jack Gerard said in a statement the industry
has been "cooperating and sharing proprietary data with the
Department of Transportation on the characteristics of crude oil.
Reports to the contrary are false."
API cited February 26 congressional testimony by Cynthia Quarterman,
director of the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, who said many oil companies were sharing information
with her agency.
Another industry representative denied that stonewalling was taking
place. "We continue to do prospective testing, and we will continue
to share that information," the representative said.
The DOT did not specify which company or industry group failed to
share information, but wrote that "we still lack data we requested
and that energy stakeholders agreed to produce within 30 days."
One energy industry trade group, the American Fuel & Petrochemical
Manufacturers (AFPM), said the DOT has requested confidential
business information that companies may be reluctant to share.
In recent months, DOT technicians have run spot-checks at wellheads
and loading terminals in North Dakota to see that fuel on the tracks
is being handled properly. Officials say they also need industry
In early January, PHMSA warned that the light oil typically produced
in the Bakken could be more volatile than traditional heavy crude
By late January, the API said it would "share expertise and testing
information with DOT, most notably PHMSA, about characteristics of
crude oil in the Bakken region."
[to top of second column]
Some North Dakota shippers have shared their knowledge about Bakken
crude, PHMSA's Quarterman told lawmakers last month. But DOT
officials say many shippers have gotten mixed messages from trade
groups about how much they should aid regulators.
Moskowitz, chief counsel for the AFPM, said he told refiners "they
have a choice to provide DOT the information directly or to work
through the association that is in the process of providing a
Bakken fuel is typically carried in standard tank cars but it may
contain large amounts of flammable gas, thus requiring more care on
the tracks, officials have said.
Shippers must label their cargoes with hazardous materials warnings,
but officials want the industry to go further and share data from
chemical tests or other studies they have conducted on Bakken fuel.
Moskowitz said some refiners have misgivings about handing over
details about their operations and business.
"They have asked for parameters of crude oil that are confidential
business information that our members don't share," he said.
The refining sector is preparing an aggregate report of industry
tests on North Dakota fuel that it hopes will satisfy regulators,
A DOT official said regulators can allay industry concerns about
sharing proprietary information.
While federal officials lead the push for answers, state and local
officials along the oil-by-rail routes are also concerned.
Upstate New York has become a major shipping route with roughly 20
percent of Bakken fuel moved through the state.
"We need to understand the exact properties of the crude oil in
these trains," said Basil Seggos, New York Deputy Secretary for the
Environment. "It is unacceptable that the petroleum industry has
stonewalled on this fundamental safety question."
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; editing by Ros Krasny, Lisa Von Ahn,
Andrew Hay and David Gregorio)
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