HOUSTON (Reuters) – Independent U.S. refiner Andeavor said on Tuesday it will not abandon a push to build a Pacific Coast rail-to-marine terminal despite a Washington state panel’s recommendation against the project.
The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council last week voted unanimously to recommend against building the $210 million project, citing the likelihood of increased accidents and deaths from greater train traffic. Its vote is advisory and the recommendation will be sent within weeks to Governor Jay Inslee, who will make the final decision.
Andeavor and partner Savage Cos five years ago had proposed a rail-to-marine terminal that would transfer 11 million barrels of oil a month from trains to tankers at the Port of Vancouver, Washington.
Brendan Smith, a spokesman for Andeavor, formerly Tesoro, said on Tuesday the San Antonio-based company was not giving up on the project.
“The value of the Vancouver Energy project continues to exist, and our intention at this time is to move forward in the process and await Governor Inslee’s decision,” he said.
Inslee, a Democrat, has 60 days from receiving the council’s formal recommendation to accept or reject it. The council is expected to send the formal recommendation to the governor by the end of the month.
“The governor definitely appreciates the work the council has done but he has expressed no opinion about the project,” said Inslee spokeswoman Tara Lee.
Andeavor and Savage Cos, a Utah-based transportation logistics firm, began the project when West Coast refiners including Royal Dutch Shell Plc were looking to open rail terminals to bring cheaper oil from the U.S. midcontinent to plants along the Pacific Coast.
But fierce opposition to shipping crude by rail arose, especially after a 2013 oil-train disaster in Quebec, and the economic incentive declined as fuel demand on along the West Coast leveled off, leading all but Andeavor to cancel their plans.
Locally, resistance to the Vancouver terminal also has been strong, fueled by environmentalists and others opposed to moving so much crude on a rail line that runs along the Columbia River.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Matthew Lewis