Volatile Bakken crude expected to keep flowing through Texas

AUSTIN – Despite falling oil prices, production cutbacks and persistent safety concerns, rail officials plan to continue shipping millions of gallons of volatile crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota through Texas, according to updated records provided by state officials on Wednesday.

Average weekly volumes reflect little change from a first batch of disclosures released last week. Those disclosures, dated last summer, provided a limited view of forecasted shipments.

Volumes in Harris County remain the highest, an average topping out at six million gallons a week.

Federal emergency orders — approved last spring after a series of fiery derailments involving Bakken crude — require railroad companies to warn state public safety officials of shipments exceeding a one-million gallon threshold. BNSF Railways made the most recent disclosures to state officials. Its new forecasts of average weekly figures came attached to documents dated in February.

The Texas Department of Public Safety fought for six months to avoid providing the records to the Houston Chronicle. Ordered by the state attorney general to comply with a request made under the state open records law, the department initially disclosed only documents dated to the beginning of the six-month fight. The new records emerged in response to a follow-up request for the most recent information.

(AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
(AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)