Against the backdrop of Monday’s rail accident in North Dakota, an Indiana company has proposed building and operating a dock on Lake Superior to load barges with crude oil from western Canada and the Bakken Shale for shipment to refineries elsewhere.

Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP, which is based in Indianapolis, has proposed spending $20 million to upgrade a dock adjacent to its 45,000 b/d refinery in Superior, WI. According to the latest company presentation from December, the Superior refinery handles Canadian Heavy, Canadian Synthetic, North Dakota Sweet and mixed sweet crude.

“As domestic production of crude oil from unconventional shale plays — such as the Bakken formation, among others — continues to increase, so too will the need to identify the safest, most reliable methods by which to transport crude oil to our nation’s refining centers,” Calumet spokesman Noel Ryan told National Public Radio on Dec. 27.

In January 2013, Calumet announced that it would explore the feasibility of building and operating the loading dock. At the time, the company said it anticipated loading ships with heavy crude oil from Canada and light crude oil from the Bakken. A Calumet executive said the company was in talks with potential customers and partners, and expected the project to be fully operational for the 2015 shipping season.

“We’re continuing to move forward for the permitting process [on the dock project],” Calumet COO Jennifer Straumins said during a conference call to discuss 3Q2013 earnings on Nov. 6. “This is a lengthy permitting process and we are still looking for viable partners in this project.”

On Nov. 6, 2013, Calumet announced that a subsidiary, Calumet San Antonio Refining LLC, had entered into a definitive agreement with TexStar Midstream Logistics LP for a 30,000 b/d crude oil pipeline system to supply Calumet’s refinery in San Antonio with crude oil from the Eagle Ford Shale (see Shale Daily, Dec. 26, 2013). TexStar would construct, own and operate the pipeline system.