Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation, Sandia investigates the material properties of crude oils, in particular the so-called “tight oils” like Bakken. Bakken oil comprises the majority of crude oil rail shipments in the United States. Sandia plans and executes the characterization tests and has partnered with several oil and gas companies and the strategic petroleum reserve to obtain samples.
The risks of crude oil transportation are shared by both the United States and Canada. By coordinating research and pooling expertise and funding, crude oil research can be accelerated, improving protection for the public and transportation networks in both countries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration and Transport Canada (TC), launched the Sampling, Analysis and Experiment (SAE) Plan, a crude oil characterization study. The intent of the research study is to characterize tight and conventional crude oils based on key chemical and physical qualities, including combustion characteristics for pool fires and fireballs.