Tesoro’s Washington state crude rail plan moves forward

Tesoro Corp.’s plan to build a complex to deliver crude oil by rail to the Port of Vancouver in Washington took a step forward Tuesday when port commissioners there approved a ground lease.

San Antonio-based  Tesoro, which is partnering with Utah-based Savage Cos. on the project, said in April that the complex would  cost as much as $100 million and would begin operating in 2014. Tesoro plans  to ship the crude by rail and load it on vessels for delivery to West Coast plants.

The company has not identified the source of the crude it proposes to ship, but analysts have speculated it would come from Canada and the Bakken Shale of North Dakota.

The proposed Vancouver  complex, which would have a capacity of  120,000 barrels of crude a day, with capability to expand to 280,000 barrels, has another regulatory hurdle — review by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which will make a recommendation to Washington’s governor for a final decision, the Columbian newspaper reported.

The project also faces resistance from environmentalists. The Columbian reported that demonstrators outside Monday’s port hearing held banners in French and English that read, “In solidarity with Lac-Megantic,” a reference to the Quebec town where 50 people were killed July 6 when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.