US Senator asks for GAO report on oil, gas transportation safety

Washington (Platts)--22Jul2013/138 pm EDT/1738 GMT


US Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has asked the General Accountability Office to examine the impact of shale oil and gas development on pipelines, rail and other transportation infrastructure and safety, in light of the Lac Megantic, Quebec, train disaster.

In a letter Friday to GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, the West Virginia Democrat said booming domestic production from the shale revolution has increased the transportation of hazardous products through existing infrastructure and led to the construction of new infrastructure.

"The recent derailment of a freight train in Canada carrying crude oil from shale reserves in North Dakota illustrated the potential deadly consequences of what can happen when something goes wrong during transport of these products," Rockefeller wrote.

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In addition, he said, production in the Marcellus Shale region has strained infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.

He noted that a 2010 GAO report on natural gas pipelines found gaps in the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's data on US pipeline infrastructure.

Rockefeller asked GAO to assess how US transportation infrastructure has changed in recent years to accommodate the increased production, and what how infrastructure challenges could impact pipeline, rail and highway safety.

--Herman Wang, herman.wang@platts.com
--Edited by Derek Sands, derek.sands@platts.com

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