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Permitting Advances for Northwest Rail-Marine Crude Terminal

A draft environmental impact study (DEIS) is in sight in Washington state on a joint venture (JV) involving units of Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies for a crude oil rail/marine terminal at the Port of Vancouver which is expected to handle Bakken crude.

The port Board of Commissioners last year approved a 10-year lease for the project that lies across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. (see Shale Daily,July 26, 2013).

It would be the largest crude oil rail terminal in the Pacific Northwest, a project the sponsors characterize as a 380,000 b/d facility. A Tesoro spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily on Thursday that Washington's state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is close to finishing its review of a preliminary DEIS.

“We expect [the siting council] will complete its review of the preliminary DEIS and release the document with council modifications as the DEIS for public comment shortly," the spokesperson said.

The JV will lease 42 acres of port property to accommodate a rail unloading facility, storage tanks and a vessel loading area. Tesoro-Savage has said it will invest $100 million in the project, which bids to bring the port $45 million in revenues during the 10-year term of the lease, and create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs.

The last phase of the permitting process with the Washington state council will be an administrative law process prior to a recommendation from the council to Gov. Jay Inslee. This administrative law stage will run concurrently with the process to finalize the DEIS, the Tesoro spokesperson said.

"The joint venture will begin construction of the terminal upon approval from the governor and issuance of permits," said the spokesperson, without speculating how soon construction might begin. "Construction is estimated to take nine to 12 months; however, initial operations are expected to begin within six months of construction start."

Although the Tesoro spokesperson would not confirm it, the Vancouver terminal, which will handle Bakken crude, could be a source of ever-more barge shipments of Bakken supplies out the Columbia River and down the Pacific Coast to California (see Shale DailyNov. 6).

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