| ANACORTES, Washington
ANACORTES, Washington May 30 When Tesoro Corp
pioneered moving crude by rail to its Washington state
refinery in 2012, it encountered little community opposition.
The same goes for early adopters BP Plc and Phillips 66
But Royal Dutch Shell may have a tougher go at it.
Shell is seeking permits, from the same regional air quality
control agency that approved the others, to transport by rail up
to 70,000 bpd of Bakken crude to its 145,000 bpd Puget Sound
refinery, at a time when a spate of fiery crude train crashes
nationwide have stoked opposition to crude-by-rail.
Indeed, there wasn't a community push back in 2012 when
Tesoro began receiving up to six BNSF Railway Co mile-long crude
trains a week - until another railroad's runaway crude train
crashed into a Quebec town in July 2013, killing 47 people.
BP and Phillips 66 also won approval for offloading projects
at their Washington refineries in 2013, ahead of even more
fiery, if not deadly, derailments.
As officials review Shell's proposal, those who oppose the
transporting of volatile oil from North Dakota by rail now say
they want a comprehensive environmental review by the state.
"There was no opposition to the other three proposals only
because we weren't aware they were in formal permitting," said
Terry Wechsler, an environmental attorney in northwest
Washington who seeks more scrutiny.
Shell declined to comment.
Those already operating say transporting oil by rail is a
lifeline to cheaper crudes as no oil pipelines cross the Cascade
Range. Without rail, Washington refineries are stuck with more
expensive imports and declining Alaskan North Slope oil.
"It was really starting to hurt our business out here," Bill
Kidd, senior director of government affairs for BP Plc's
U.S. arm, said at the rail offloading operation next to the
company's 225,000 bpd Cherry Point refinery near Blaine,
BP started taking 70,000 bpd of Bakken in December, while
Tesoro began receiving 50,000 bpd at its 120,000 bpd Anacortes
refinery in September 2012.
Tesoro says incoming crude via rail reduced by a third what
used to be nearly 450 ships that once delivered crude to its
Phillips 66 is building infrastructure to take
30,000 bpd at its 101,000 bpd Ferndale refinery by year-end.
Tesoro and BP say they took extra steps for safety with
closed systems. Thick hoses hook to the bottom of rail cars to
drain crude into a pipeline that pumps it to storage tanks.
While unloading, a smaller hose hooks into a vapor recovery
system at the top, ensuring no gases escape.
Savage Companies handles unloading for both once BNSF trains
BP and Tesoro also removed tons of dirt from hillsides to
ensure trains sit on flat surfaces.
"We wanted to make sure it was flat enough so the rail cars
can't move on their own," said Jason James, operations
superintendent at Cherry Point.
(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Terry Wade and