Transporting Crude Oil by Rail: UH Energy Expert Weighs in on Reducing Risk

Krishnamoorti Offers Expertise on Updated Standards for Tank Cars

KrishnamoortiRamanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer for the University of Houston, is available to talk about the proposed standards for tank cars expected to be released by the U.S. Department of Transportation this week.

Krishnamoorti, also a professor of petroleum and chemical and biomolecular engineering, has talked about why crude oil from the Bakken Shale is more flammable than some other types of crude oil: it has high levels of light hydrocarbons like propane, butane and pentane, which are highly flammable. Oil from the Eagle Ford Shale is similar.

In contrast, heavy crude oil such as that from Canada’s oil sands fields is much less flammable, he said.

Krishnamoorti has said that companies could reduce the risks involved with moving the oil by putting it through an additional processing step before loading it onto rail cars, separating out some of the lighter hydrocarbons.

Rail cars increase safety by adding valves to allow more vapor to be released from tanks, lowering their flammability, he said.

Contact Krishnamoorti at or through Jeannie Kever at 713-743-0778 or