As emergency crews respond to the latest oil train derailment in North Dakota, the state’s governor called for the quick development of more pipeline capacity.
Six tank cars carrying Bakken crude oil through Heimdal, N.D., derailed Wednesday morning. The flames forced the evacuation of the town of less than 50 people. No injuries were reported and cars not involved in the derailment were moved to a secure location.
North Dakota’s crude oil production has increased to the point that there’s not enough pipeline capacity to handle the boom. That means energy companies are relying more on rail to take up the slack.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that, while the latest incident shows an urgent need for improved rail safety, it also highlights the shortage of options for oil transit through the state.
“Pipelines offer the safest mode of crude oil transportation so we must also develop greater pipeline capacity,” he said in a statement.
In March, the governor said rail traffic may drop off once new pipeline infrastructure comes online. Three pipelines — Sandpiper, Dakota Access and Upland — should be in service by 2018 and provide 895,000 barrels per day in new capacity.
The governor in early April secured assistance from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to help fund university research in pipeline safety. A bill signed into law by Dalrymple last month strengthens the state’s regulatory oversight on pipelines for crude oil and so-called produced water.
Officials from BNSF are investigating the Heimdal incident alongside state and federal authorities.