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Port of Prince Rupert exploring ‘gas station’, not oil terminal

The port confirmed that they are exploring options to build a bunkering facility
The Port of Prince Rupert has denied claims of a potential oil-loading terminal south of the Westview Pellet Terminal. Instead, the Port says it is looking into a bunkering facility. Todd Hamilton photo.

The Port of Prince Rupert is categorically denying reports of plans to construct an oil-loading terminal south of the Westview Pellet Terminal.

“There is no oil terminal project proposed or underway at the Port of Prince Rupert,” Michael Gurney, manager of corporate communications told the Northern View.

However, the Port of Prince Rupert did confirm that they are exploring options to build a bunkering facility.

“As the Port seeks to grow and diversify its cargoes, we have discussed the possibility of providing bunkering services for vessels.”

The Port would not confirm reports that Grizzly Oil Sands and Wolverine Terminals were the entities looking into a Rupert site or if they were potential partners in a bunkering facility.

Grizzly Oil Sands, according to its website began in June 2014 to ship crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast through the Windell Rail Terminal.

The company says it has approximately 3.4 billion barrels of proven or probable reserves and says it is currently establishing infrastructure to transport bitumen via rail.

The Port Authority is approached frequently by a wide variety of proponents about a wide variety of cargoes,” Gurney said. “[Port of Prince Rupert] does not discuss specific proposals or project inquiries until a project is more fully-developed and in a position to advance.”

For most intents and purposes, a bunkering facility is a marine fuelling station for large vessels.

Most ports in the world provide this service, but Prince Rupert does not.

“The provision of this service would make Prince Rupert a more attractive shipping gateway — in fact, the absence of the capability is a significant disadvantage and remains a service gap impacting the efficiency of the gateway,” Gurney said.

“Over the past years we have had multiple discussions with potential proponents about how the port could institute this service.”

North American west coast ports that provide bunkering services include: Anchorage, Dutch Harbor (both in Alaska), Vancouver, Cherry Point and Port Angeles (both in Washington State).

Gurney said, as far as how that bunker fuel oil for ships would reach Prince Rupert, could arrive in a variety of ways including truck, rail or by ship.

“Any such solution would, of course, be required to undergo an environmental assessment to fully understand and mitigate potential risks,” he said.