Shell said Thursday, Oct. 6 it has suspended permitting for a planned crude-by-rail project at its refinery in Skagit County.
The move came two days after the Washington State Department of Ecology and Skagit County released a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project, which proposed conditions for building the project.
Refinery officials said in a statement they are calling off the project for economic reasons – primarily the falling price of Bakken crude oil. The plan called for a construction of a rail spur along existing track to bring an estimated 60,000 barrels of crude oil a day to the refinery.
“At today’s prices even if I had a (rail) facility, I would not be buying Bakken,” said Shirley Yap, the refinery’s general manager.
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The refinery will continue receiving crude oil from Alaska’s North Slope by ship and from Canada by pipeline.
The Puget Sound Refinery produces roughly 25 percent of the fuel in the Northwest, Shell said, and is among the largest employers in Skagit County, with more than 700 employees and contractors.
The controversial oil-by-rail project drew opposition in Skagit and Whatcom counties, with environmental groups pointing to potential risks at Whatcom County’s two refineries.
The Shell and nearby Tesoro refineries were the target of a three-day protest against fossil fuels in May. Fifty-two people were arrested and charged with criminal trespass for blocking BNSF Railway lines.