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Shell calls off oil-by-rail project in Anacortes

In this Sept. 2, 2014 photo, a northbound oil train sits idled on tracks, stopped by protesters blocking the track ahead, in Everett, Washington. Shell Puget Sound Refinery near Anacortes has suspended its plans to build a rail spur on existing tracks to handle trains carrying crude oil. It would bring in about 60,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
In this Sept. 2, 2014 photo, a northbound oil train sits idled on tracks, stopped by protesters blocking the track ahead, in Everett, Washington. Shell Puget Sound Refinery near Anacortes has suspended its plans to build a rail spur on existing tracks to handle trains carrying crude oil. It would bring in about 60,000 barrels of crude oil a day. AP

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.

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.

Bill Kidd, director of external affairs at BP Cherry Point, explains the 200-acre rail offloading facility in 2014 and the newer tanker cars designed to transport crude oil more safely.

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