* Construction now slated for late 2014-early 2015
* Delay due to state-required environmental impact study
* Project cost up to $150 mln-$190 mln, previously $100 mln
(Recasts with length of delay, adds detail about project and
oil by rail on U.S. West Coast)
By Kristen Hays
HOUSTON, May 1 The start-up of a major Pacific
Northwest rail-to-barge terminal that could bring hundreds of
thousands of barrels per day of cheap North American crude to
the U.S. West Coast will be delayed by at least a few months due
to environmental requirements, the top executive at Tesoro Corp
said on Thursday.
In addition, the cost for Tesoro's joint-venture project at
the Port of Vancouver in Washington could be as much as 90
percent more than originally planned, Chief Executive Greg Goff
said during the company's quarterly earnings call.
The project is seeking permits to handle up to 380,000
barrels per day.
The delay comes as opposition to the crude-by-rail movement,
which is booming in tandem with the U.S. shale oil revolution,
is gaining steam in the aftermath of several fiery crude train
crashes and derailments since last summer.
On Wednesday 15 railcars on a CSX Corp crude train
derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia, catching fire and spilling
about 831 barrels of oil into the James River.
Tesoro and its partner, Savage Services, submitted
environmental permit requests for the railport in August, and
had expected the railport to start up in late 2014 or early
On Thursday, Goff said construction is now expected to begin
in that timeframe. The railport will be able to begin running
before the entire project is completed, with initial volumes
arriving in mid-2015. The entire project will be completed a
year after construction starts, he said.
The estimated cost of the railport also has risen, to a
range of $150 million to $190 million, from about $100 million,
Goff said. The cost will be split 50-50 between Tesoro and
Goff said the project delay is because the company is
waiting for the state to provide it with requirements for an
environmental impact study.
"We are in the window when the state will come out with
their requirements for the EIS, and then we will comply with
that," Goff said. "That has put us somewhere between six to
eight weeks behind schedule."
He said the company can respond quickly when the state
provides those requirements, and "it's the only delay that we've
experienced so far."
Tesoro led the charge on the West Coast when it came to
tapping cheaper inland U.S. and Canadian crudes. The company in
September 2012 started up an offloading facility at its 120,000
barrel-per-day refinery in Anacortes, Washington, which receives
up to 50,000 bpd of North Dakota Bakken crude.
Other refiners have done the same or are trying, as no major
pipelines move crude to the West Coast and rail has been the
region's only way to substitute cheaper North American crude for
more expensive imports.
The railport project would serve the entire West Coast, not
just Tesoro plants, and be the largest crude-by-rail operation
in the region by far.
While permits are seeking capacity up to 380,000 bpd, Goff
has said actual volumes will hover around 300,000 bpd.
(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Nick Zieminski and