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REGIONAL REPORTWEST COAST NORTH AMERICA


Lack of pipelines hampers Canada’s oil


Since 2000, unconventional oil and gas development in North America has developed rapidly, putting the USA back near the top of the oil and gas production league tables. At the same time, important technological


advances made Canadian oil sands economically viable. Those two factors have been a boon to project logisticians as pipes, reactor vessels, pumps and valves had to move to North Dakota and northern Alberta. Then oil prices collapsed in late 2014 from more than USD100 a barrel to below USD40. They slowly recovered to as much as USD70 a barrel, only to tumble back to about USD60 in late November 2018. The timing is about as good as bad news can be.


Capital development money for 2018 was already well spent. And while 2019 budgets were set in the happier days of late summer, no cheques have yet been written. If prices recover quickly, project development in the USA will too. This is not the case in Canada. Bitumen from the oil sands still has to get more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km) in any direction to tidewater or the US border. Existing pipelines are at capacity. Three major projects have been planned but all have met heavy opposition: expansions of the lines to the USA and to Vancouver, British Columbia, and also a proposed greenfield line to Kitimat. The dispute got so heated that the province of


Alberta threatened to withhold fuel shipments to British Columbia because of the latter’s opposition to pipelines. In response, the federal government in Ottawa effectively nationalised the project to expand the Trans Mountain line to Vancouver. Unit trains of tank cars can take some load, but


are not a permanent solution. Canada also suffered the horrific crash of an oil train at Lac Megantic, Quebec, in 2014 that killed almost 50 people and incinerated the centre of town. Nevertheless, Alberta plans to buy 7,000 new tank cars. It has also ordered a production cut of almost 9 percent. Industry sources say the oil sands can be


profitable at about USD50-55 per barrel, which is exactly where prices were in early December. But, until they move a little higher and stabilise, there will not be much incentive for pipelines. If prices rise significantly, project cargo ports


and operators on the West and Gulf coasts will likely benefit from shipments for both pipelines and production equipment.


68 January/February 2019


enables us to discharge an entire vessel direct to rail. For project cargo, we also have 70 acres (28.3 ha) of laydown space at the port, so no drayage.” Plus, there is a 30 acre (12.1 ha) free trade zone.


Power projects In addition to ever-larger wind turbine blades, Longview has moved several out-of- gauge (OOG) transformers for Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that operates hydroelectric power plants in the Pacific Northwest. “Bonneville replaces all its transformers on a cycle, so we see somewhere between three and seven in any given year,” said Nelson-Cooley. “We are the only port [in the region] that can handle those direct to rail. They can go into Tacoma, but that means a barge transfer,” she stated. Longview is also anticipating work from a


planned methanol plant at Kalama, Washington. NW Innovations is investing more than USD2 billion in the project. Construction is expected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020. The port of Vancouver, Washington, has also moved some transformers, said Strogen.


He said that the port is a quasi-landlord. “We do receiving and delivery through a subcontractor stevedore, but the facilities are ours. We have large-capacity Liebherr cranes for when ships’ gear is not sufficient.”


Over the last year we have proven that there is a viable route from the West Coast to the Upper Midwest USA and Western Canada. – Erik Zander, Omega Morgan


www.heavyliftpfi.com


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