Vancouver terminal only proposed crude oil-by-rail project in state

Greys Harbor plan dropped earlier this week

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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The Vancouver Energy oil terminal is now the only proposed crude-by-rail project in Washington.

In their annual report to the Ocean Shores City Council on Monday, Port of Grays Harbor officials said tenants Contanda Grays Harbor and REG,  previously Westway Terminals and Imperium Renewables, respectively, have dropped their crude-oil projects, according to The Daily World of Aberdeen.

The newspaper reported that Kayla Dunlap, the port’s public affairs manager, said, “Both Contanda and REG have taken crude oil off the lists of commodities that they handle, so there are no longer any crude oil projects in Grays Harbor.”

The companies are looking at alternatives to grow their businesses. REG, which operates a biofuels refinery at the port, is looking to expand its operation. Contanda Grays Harbor is considering growing its liquid bulk products exports.

Eric de Place, policy director of the Sightline Institute, an environmental and stainability-focused think tank based in Seattle, said the announcement isn’t surprising considering the recent history of the two projects.

“In some ways it’s news, but it’s sort of predictable news,” he said, noting that REG in 2016 announced that it was no longer going to pursue handling crude.

Also, the environmental group Earthjustice recently successfully sued on behalf of the Quinault Nation to stop the Contanda (then Westway) and Imperium proposals.

“They won a unanimous decision by the state Supreme Court, which found the Contanda project violated the state Ocean Resources Management Act. That essentially made those projects in violation of state law,” he said. “The news we got today was the company bowed to the court ruling. ”

Another oil project was derailed in November 2015, when Grays Harbor Rail Terminal, which is owned by U.S. Development Group, quietly stepped away from a lease on land where it proposed to build an $80 million bulk liquids shipping terminal.

The city of Ocean Shores was opposed to the projects. In 2014, its city council and mayor passed a resolution strongly opposing the Port of Grays Harbor’s plans to embrace crude oil facilities.

Just a couple of years ago there were seven crude-by-rail projects proposed around Western Washington, but now Vancouver Energy is the final one remaining from that group.

The Vancouver Energy oil terminal was the only recently proposed transfer terminal proposal large enough to be reviewed by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. It’s well into its fourth year of evaluation.

The $210 million terminal would be capable of transferring an average of 360,000 barrels of oil per day and storing 2.25 million barrels of oil on site per day.

The oil would be shipped via 1.5-mile-long unit trains from North Dakota and transfer it into marine vessels traveling Columbia River.

From there, the oil would be shipped to refineries along the West Coast.

When the evaluation council is done evaluating the project, it will forward a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee. He then will have 60 days to decide whether the terminal will be built.