ANACORTES, Wash. – Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery on March Point is moving closer to building a rail offloading facility for crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation now that high-level design work has been completed and the company is ready to apply for 17 permits required before construction starts.
Shell needs the offloading facility to accept 100-car trains carrying roughly 60,000 barrels of crude oil from the formation, refinery General Manager Thomas Rizzo said. The facility will be designed to handle up to one train in and out per day.
Shell has no plans for the rail facility to increase capacity at the 145,000-barrel-per-day refinery, but Rizzo said less crude oil will be coming from two current sources: Alaska’s North Slope via tanker and to a lesser extent, Canada by pipeline.
North Slope production peaked in 1988 at 722,447 barrels per day, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Bakken formation has grown from producing less than 200,000 barrels per day in 2007 to an estimated 1 million-plus this month. It now contributes an estimated 10 percent of total U.S. oil production, according to the administration.
Rizzo said the plan to add an offloading facility was also driven by a need to compete with other refineries that have similar offloading facilities either built or planned.
The design for the facility at the Anacortes refinery features a rail spur peeling off of the main BNSF Railway line onto Shell property. BNSF’s tracks travel through downtown Spokane.
Rizzo said the facility will work by having the 100-car trains pull all the way up to the end of the track, detach the rear end of the train at car no. 50, back it up and pull it alongside the front part of the train on parallel tracks.