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Maritime Logistics Professional

Fracking could be the new future for some ports

Posted to Martin Rushmere (by on April 28, 2013

Grays Harbor is jumping in

Northwest and as the door on a coal terminal closes, another opens for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Gray’s Harbor, normally associated with autos and breakbulk, is eyeing a huge bonanza in the form of crude-by-rail.

The stuff will probably come from the fields, although other sources are being looked at. Three companies are keenly interested -- Westway Terminal Company: Imperium Terminal Services and Grays Harbor Rail Terminal (a subsidiary of US Development).

Development is in a real hurry to get going and has reduced its original plan for two unit trains per day to one, every other day, which would bring in about 50,000 bbl a day facility. The company estimates an investment of $60 million and reckons the site could be operational in the first quarter of 2015.

The port is setting aside Terminals 1 and 3 for the three projects and says there will be 100-150 vessel calls a year if all operate at capacity. The Terminal 3 berth depth is between 38 and 40 feet, and needs yearly maintenance. The length is more than 500 feet. Terminal 1 berth depth of is 41 feet, and has a length of 480 feet.

Not so fast, says an eco-group called Citizens for a . The group says “the import and export of crude oil in this extremely fragile and vital estuary would be catastrophic. There are three crude oil terminals proposed bringing in over 97 million gallons of crude.

“Billions of dollars come into the local economy through fishing, crabbing, shellfish growing, a migratory bird refuge of hemispheric importance, and many other jobs which would be destroyed with one spill,” says the group. “In addition, the rail lines are in disrepair and the additional rail traffic from the mile-long trains would negatively impact many communities and businesses.”

In 2012 a proposal to build a coal export terminal was dropped, partly because of pressure from environmental groups. The developer, RailAmerica, said a third party was interested in the site and had bought in.

Oil may be less of an environmental hazard than coal, but one thing’s for sure and that’s the optimism being shown by US Development. In all likelihood the terminal will only be operational in 2016 at the earliest.

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