What if giant megaloads of oil field equipment didn't even have to enter the United States to get from Asia to the Alberta oil sands project in Canada, and what if avoiding the U.S. actually cost less? That's the prospect being floated by a railroad company that owns a Canadian seaport, and it's adding a new wrinkle to the debate over the equipment transports to the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, where dozens of companies are rushing to develop an oil resource that's eclipsed only by those of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
A court ruling is pending in Montana and an administrative ruling pending in Idaho on the 200-plus megaload transports proposed by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil, which would take giant modules fabricated in Korea up the Columbia and Snake rivers by barge to Lewiston, then truck them across scenic U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho to Montana and Canada. The loads are so big they'll block both lanes of the twisting, two-lane highway, creating a rolling roadblock; but they're too tall to travel on most other routes, including interstate highways. You can read my full story here in Thursday's Spokesman-Review.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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