Running Bakken Crude In A Diesel Engine

I heard from a pipeliner a while back that farmers were running a 50/50 Bakken crude/diesel mix in thier tractors. I was skeptical, of course; pipeliners rank low on the oilfield totem pole and one can’t trust them too much.

Pipeliner: an oilfield worker who lays above ground or below ground pipe from oil wells to shipping ports, rail terminals, or trucking terminals.

After discussing this with my boss this morning, I think it is possible. Crude from the Bakken formation is light, sweet stuff; more green in color than the thick black stuff that comes from Saudi Arabia. Running it in a tractor engine is theoretically possible. After all, Diesel engines were made to run on unrefined fuels. Large ships run on a very thick, sludgy diesel called “bunker fuel,” which I once had the pleasure of cleaning up out of a harbor in Washington state.

If farmers really are doing this, I wonder how they are getting thier hands on it? Oil wells aren’t secured at all, and it would be easy to fill up on crude if you knew which valve to go to. Perhaps farmers are bribing the lease hands that ovesee the wells?

I wish I could confirm this rumor.

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4 Responses to Running Bakken Crude In A Diesel Engine

  1. John Lien says:

    FWIW, I remember reading a post a few years back about a guy who traveled the southwest running his diesel on crude from the storage tanks next to the pumps. He had a fairly large tank in his bed so he could go quite a distance between fill ups. I don’t think he did any engine mods to run on crude.

    A couple of weeks ago I attended a wedding of a young man who was running his F250 powerstroke diesel on used fry oil. Fairly simple setup. He has a tank in the bed. The filtered oil is heated in the tank by a heat exchanger using engine coolant as the heat source. The heated oil is sent through a coolant-heated filter and then through another heat exchanger under the hood right before going into the normal fuel line to the injectors. The key was keeping the fry oil warm. Cold oil would end up ruining the injectors. It was all off-the-shelf parts and plumbing really. No custom parts or fabrication (maybe a small amount) required.

    • thesvenster says:

      I’ve heard of many green folks running their cars on vegetable oil. Usually they had modified injectors to accommodate the thicker fuel, but that is about it. They prefer vehicles with two tanks like the F250s. The truck is started with diesel, switched to the oil, and then back to diesel before being shutdown. The circulation to keep the oil warm is an interesting idea that I hadn’t heard of before.

      Modern diesel trucks are more finicky about what they run, but more robust older engines can handle about anything. Mercedes Unimogs can run on diesel, gas, and even kerosene.

      As for crude oil, since it is unrefined it would have less energy content than diesel so you would probably have less power and more frequent fills, but if you are getting the stuff for cheap it would be worth it.

      I’m going to consider this rumor plausible.

  2. A. G. Fuels Research says:

    Go to any of the listed and follow the links.
    http://www.thedieselgarage.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94256
    http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-15859.html
    http://www.4btswaps.com/forum/showthread.php?9941-Deutz-ZF-42-Powered-1978-F250-Fueled-With-Raw-Well

    Or enter “Deutz in F250” in a search engine and follow the hits and links. The featured truck has been over a goodly portion of the US and Canada fueled solely on 100% raw well (crude) oil. It never passes up a chance to refuel with oil from the Bakken/Three Forks/Sanish formations. The truck took its first “swig” from the Elm Coulee field about seven or eight years ago. Since then its visited quite a few farms in ND that have production. Admittedly the ugliest truck on the road, its hard working and farmers love it. Being air cooled there are no worries about ND winter temperatures freezing the coolant. Also fueled on 100% raw well oil is a 160 hp Deutz tractor, a 300D Mercedes Benz and a host of other engines ranging from one cylinder Deutz and Yanmar to a 3306 Cat. Include in the mix are several Guiberson nine cylinder radial diesel aircraft engines and an old Homelight chainsaw. Hopefully, the Guibersons will be back in the air one day. As for the Homelight, its not diesel and if the wind isn’t blowing visibility becomes rather restricted after ten minutes or so of cutting. And the spark plug needs changing about every hour or so. But the chips fly the same as fueled on an oil/gasoline two cycle mix.

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