Tesoro halts plans for Utah oil pipeline

Tesoro-LogoSAN ANTONIO — Tesoro Corp. has put plans to build a 135-mile crude oil pipeline in Utah on permanent hold because of unfavorable market conditions, the San Antonio-based refiner announced recently.

Tesoro’s project, the Uinta Express Pipeline, was to have shipped thick waxy crude oil from Utah’s Uinta Basin to the company’s plant in Salt Lake City.

But “due to unfavorable market conditions and challenged economic feasibility, we have decided not to advance the Uinta Express Pipeline project at this time,” company spokesman Destin Singleton said in an emailed statement.

Singleton said Tesoro “may re-evaluate moving forward with this project in the future under more favorable conditions.”

She said the decision was made after an internal review of the company’s proposed projects “to determine where they will fit our portfolio going forward.”

The pipeline, which was to begin operating in 2016, would have included other facilities such as pump stations and storage tanks.

Environmentalists had objected to the project, and the chairwoman of Utah’s Summit County Council told the Deseret News that she was “concerned” about the project because of the possible effects it could have on the region’s environment.

But Cindy Gubler, a Utah-based spokeswoman for the pipeline project, said Friday that environmental pushback on the pipeline didn’t play a part in Tesoro’s decision to put the project on hold.

“Not at all,” Gubler said. “The project was actually in a very good place in terms of community awareness and support.”

Tesoro recently completed expansion work at its Salt Lake City refinery designed to improve yields of gasoline and diesel and to boost the plant’s ability to process waxy crude oil.