Tesoro, Savage brass in town for meetings

No public events on oil facility this time

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor and Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter

Published:

 

Several top officials of the two companies hoping to build an oil-by-rail transfer terminal at the Port of Vancouver are in town this week for private meetings with key business and government leaders, as well as project partners.

No public events with the executives are scheduled, said Jennifer Minx, Tesoro Corp.’s senior manager of corporate communications.

The visting Tesoro executives are Keith Casey, senior vice president, and Brian Sullivan, vice president of corporate affairs. Nathan Savage, a senior vice president of Utah-based Savage Companies, is also in town, according to an email invitation to a closed business meeting that was circulated last week by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

That closed meeting of about 40 stakeholders, elected officials and business leaders is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Heathman Lodge, immediately following an unrelated luncheon hosted by the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Though the oil terminal wasn’t on Monday’s Vancouver City Council agenda, several dozen citizens attended the meeting to talk about the proposal during a public comment period. Last week, a majority of council members said they oppose the terminal.

Opponents also said they would turn out for Tuesday’s meeting of the Port of Vancouver Board of Commissioners at 9:30 a.m. at the port’s office, 3103 N.W. Lower River Road in Vancouver.

During the meeting, commissioners are slated to receive the full details of a new rail safety study. The study, conducted by TUVRheinland, has found a very low likelihood of a train derailment on tracks that run alongside a waterfront redevelopment project whose leader says will largely be ruined if the oil terminal is built at the port.

Minx said the executives would attend the port commission meeting.

The arrival in Vancouver of the executive-level visitors has stirred concerns among critics of the oil terminal. In email Friday to The Columbian, Don Steinke, who opposes an oil terminal, cited an online post by Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental research group. The post said: “Hot on the heels of learning that the local city council is narrowly opposed to the project, the oil refining giant is going on a full court press lobbying mission in Vancouver.”

Tesoro and Savage want to build a $110 million oil-by-rail facility capable of handling 380,000 barrels of crude per day. The crude would be shipped by train from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation and eventually converted into transportation fuel.

The companies applied for a permit Aug. 29. An environmental impact review by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is expected to take more than a year. The EFSEC will make a recommendation to Washington’s governor, who may accept it, reject it or send it back to the council for more work.