In the offshore and Canadian oil and gas industry, workers commonly use
automatic tank gauging technology to avoid deadly gas exposure. However,
in the Bakken and other federal land-based gas and oil drilling operations,
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulates and enforces oil measurement.
The agency's outdated rules endanger workers increasing the likelihood for
oil field injury in the Bakken.
According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report, the BLM has
not revised its regulations since 1989. Consequently, BLM regulations
have not kept pace with today’s industry technologies and standards.
Because the BLM allows only one type of automated measurement, the expensive
Lease Automatic Custody Transfer (LACT), companies only use it on the most productive oil wells. In the
Bakken and other federal lands there are only 1,500 in use while there
are 83,000 oil tanks on federal land.
Since the BLM wants to make sure that tank oil measurements remain accurate,
they are cautious about introducing new, possibly less accurate technology
that replaces workers manually measuring oil in tanks in areas such as
However, for several years the BLM has attempted to move closer to sanctioning
more automated technology and is currently updating the Onshore Order
4 rule for the first time since 1989. How much they will take worker safety
into account in their revisions is so far unknown.
While the BLM won’t issue a final decision until summer, there are
many companies expressing concern over the cost of the Onshore Order 4
revisions and automatic gauging.
Meanwhile, many truck drivers and other oilfield workers in the Bakken
continue to manually measure crude oil risking oil field injury from inhalation,
fire and explosion. Please
contact us to learn more.