All Eyes on Peru

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Rail shipments of oil and petroleum products through October up 13% over year-ago period

672, 118 tank cars of oil and/or petroleum from Jan to October 2014

graph of changes in rail carloads of select commodities, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Association of American Railroads
Note: These carloadings do not include intermodal traffic.

U.S. rail traffic, including carloadings of all commodity types, has increased 4.5% through October 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Crude oil and petroleum products had the second-biggest increase in carloadings through the first 10 months of this year, with these shipments occurring in parts of the country where there is also strong demand to move coal and grain by rail. In response to shipper concerns over the slow movement of crude oil, coal, grain, ethanol, and propane, federal regulators are closely tracking service among the major U.S. freight railroad companies.

Rail carloadings of oil and petroleum products totaled 672,118 tank cars during January-October 2014, 13.4% higher compared to the same period last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Rising U.S. crude oil production, particularly in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation, where pipeline takeaway capacity is limited in moving the state’s growing oil volumes to market, is one of the main reasons for this increase in rail shipments of petroleum and petroleum products.

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Tesoro Flaring 11-16-14

11-16-14 tesoro another angle 11-16-14 tesoro

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Tesoro Flaring 11/15/14

tesoro flaring 11-15tesoro flaring 2 11-14

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Tesoro Flaring 11/14/14

tesoro flaring 11-14

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Tesoro’s East Bay refinery fined $260,000 for air violations

By Jaxon Van Derbeken   Friday, November 14, 2014   SFGate

Tesoro Corp. has agreed to pay $260,000 in fines for nearly two dozen violations at its Contra Costa County refinery in 2011, air-quality regulators said Friday.

The 23 violations included an out-of-control flaring incident May 12, 2011, that prompted complaints from neighbors of the refinery, located in an unincorporated area near Martinez, said the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The agency’s executive officer, Jack Broadbent, said in a statement that oil refineries must satisfy their permit restrictions and that “missteps in their operations will not be tolerated.”

Tesoro exceeded limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide on an undisclosed number of dates in 2011, the air-quality agency said.

The company was also fined for having leaks in tanks and failing to monitor emissions properly and report violations.

The company violated limits during the May 12 flaring event — the uncontrolled burning off of excess hydrocarbons — and failed to do a required analysis of another flaring later in 2011, the agency said.

Tesoro representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

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Yesterday’s Flaring at Tesoro

flaring 11-14 day

11-13-14 Tesoro daytime flaring

11-13-14 Tesoro Flaring

11-13-14 Tesoro Flaring

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Empty crude train derails in North Dakota

14 Nov 2014

Houston, 14 November (Argus) — BNSF crews worked overnight to clear and repair tracks around Casselton, North Dakota, where 12 empty crude tank cars derailed after being knocked off the tracks by a parallel train that derailed 21 mostly paper and lumber cars.

None of the empty crude cars was compromised, a BNSF spokeswoman said today. There were no injuries, and a broken rail is the suspected cause despite a visual inspection done earlier in the day that indicated no problems.

Casselton was the site of a similar accident on 30 December, when a grain train derailed and caused a full crude train to derail. That accident resulted in the derailment of 21 tank cars, some of which ruptured and caused a massive explosion and fire. There were no injuries in that accident, either.

The December Casselton wreck was one of five fiery crude-by-rail accidents since July 2013, when 47 people died when a runaway crude train crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The other wrecks have not caused any injuries or deaths.

The spate of accidents have prompted a series of regulator moves, including more inspections, slower speeds and development of stronger tank car requirements in Canada and the US. This week, North Dakota proposed rules to limit the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) — a measure of potential volatility — in crude to 13.7 psi starting on 1 February.

“We have to make sure families and communities across North Dakota are safe in their homes and do not live in fear that the next derailment could be in their town,” US senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) said today.

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Images of Tesoro “incident” yesterday


Photo by Craig Cannon on


Photo by William Lee Walhovd on Editor’s Note: After the smoke had dissipated.

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Massive Flaring at Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, CA

For at least the second night in a row, flaring at the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, CA has caused an eerie orange glow to flicker through-out the sky. Video taken by Tom Griffith near the refinery entrance across from the Food Bank just off of Arnold Drive at about 9:30 PM on the way home from dinner. Earlier in the day, another MEG member saw a huge dark black plume of smoke coming from a visible flame in the direction of Tesoro. This flame was visible from about one mile south of the 242 exit going north on I-680 at 4 PM. Another friend reported that the flames were visible from the Alhambra Hills area, where he had never seen them before the last couple of days.

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