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ND oil not feeling pain from hurricane - yet

More oil trains may be used if Gulf Coast refineries are shuttered too long. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — Hurricane Harvey's disruption to Gulf Coast refineries is not showing any impact on North Dakota's oil industry, according to Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. But it's early, he admits.

Lack of impact now doesn't mean an impact isn't coming. It just depends on how long the refinery outages last, Kringstad said.

"As of right now, it doesn't appear to be having any immediate effect, at least so far," Kringstad said. "The big unknown is how long the refining centers on the Gulf Coast are going to be impacted."

The extent of the refinery outages should become more clear in coming days as companies assess damages to the facilities, he said.

The longer the refineries take to resume operation, the greater the likelihood of congestion occurring at the nation's oil hubs, which could work its way back to North Dakota, he said.

If North Dakota starts to fill the impact, he said, oil companies would look for alternate marketing strategies, such as shipping by rail to different hubs.

The nation's second largest oil producer, North Dakota generally produces about a million barrels of oil per day.

Tessa Sandstrom, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council, also said no impact is apparent as far as markets, although some companies report more difficulty in getting repair parts for oil-field equipment.

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