Sen. John D. Rockefeller on Friday asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the current shale oil and gas development on the nation's transportation infrastructure.
Railroads are being used to transport the majority of oil from the Bakken field in the upper plains to refineries on the coasts because there are few pipelines. Rail tank cars are also being used in other areas of the country to move domestic oil from new developments. Trucks and rail are also being used to deliver specialized sand, water, chemicals, drilling rigs and other equipment for the specialized drilling techniques being employed to extract oil in shale formations.
Rockefeller said the recent spike in domestic oil and gas production raises questions about the ability of existing infrastructure to safely transport oil, especially as volume grows.
Earlier this month, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota rolled out of control and derailed, leveling part of a small town in Quebec.
In a letter to the GAO
, Rockefeller said that production in the Marcus Shale region that runs through parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania is straining road capacity in rural areas "to the point that producers are calling for larger highway interstate connections and increased transportation capacity overall."
("Steel Wheeled Pipeline
," which ran in the January issue of American Shipper,
analyzes at length the logistical challenges for setting up new drill sites and getting oil and gas to market in the United States.) - Eric Kulisch