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Petrogas plans to take over Alcoa Intalco pier at Cherry Point

Petrogas, which receives, stores and ships liquefied petroleum gas at Cherry Point, plans to take over Alcoa Intalco Works’ pier and wharf.
Petrogas, which receives, stores and ships liquefied petroleum gas at Cherry Point, plans to take over Alcoa Intalco Works’ pier and wharf. Bellingham Herald file

Petrogas West, which receives, stores and ships liquefied petroleum gas at Cherry Point, plans to take over Alcoa Intalco Works’ wharf and pier, pending a sale deal that includes transfer of a state aquatics lease.

Petrogas currently employs about 30 full-time workers at the Ferndale terminal, and already uses the pier with permission from Intalco, as allowed under the state lease.

“Intalco has signed an agreement with Petrogas to sell property associated with its aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Washington, including the site’s wharf,” Intalco spokesman Josh Wilund confirmed in an email.

Intalco will still operate and maintain alumina offloading equipment at the pier.

Josh Wilund, spokesman for Alcoa Intalco Works

The sale will not impact Intalco’s ability to run the smelter, which will keep getting and sending alumina using the pier, Wilund wrote.

“Intalco will still operate and maintain alumina offloading equipment at the pier,” Wilund wrote.

Petrogas has applied to take over the Aquatic Lands Lease between Intalco and Washington state, which includes the wharf and pier.

The lease states the wharf can have “a maximum of 48 vessel dockings per year for all products (Intalco as well as Petrogas),” according to a letter sent to Whatcom County Council on July 5.

Petrogas Energy Corp. bought the Ferndale terminal from Chevron in 2014, with plans to “handle exports and imports of up to 30,000 barrels a day of LPG” and supply propane to the U.S. market, according to a news release from early 2014.

Since Petrogas Energy Corp. bought the liquefied petroleum gas storage terminal from Chevron in 2014, it has spent more than $40 million on upgrades and maintenance, according to local management.

A local Petrogas manager could not be reached for comment Friday, Aug. 12, and a message left for another Petrogas representative was not returned as of Friday evening.

Since Petrogas took over the facility, it has spent more than $40 million on upgrades and maintenance, according to a letter local manager Andrew Gamble sent to Whatcom County Council on July 11.

His July 11 letter and another letter sent by legal counsel for the company outlined concerns with proposed changes to the county’s land use planning document.

The proposed changes could limit or prohibit expansions at the site that would allow for new export of unrefined fossil fuels.

“The proposed revisions would make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain permits to do the necessary maintenance, renovation, or alteration of the dock or other facilities we have here,” Gamble wrote to the county. “The Petrogas Terminal is about 50 years old and it requires constant efforts to ensure compliance with the many regulations that affect it, while also remaining competitive in a highly-competitive global business. It already is very difficult to obtain the necessary permits to do even basic maintenance or renovations, let alone improvements or expansions.”

Those changes are being studied by the county’s planning commission. In the meantime, the County Council made the decision Tuesday, Aug. 9, to put a moratorium on accepting or processing those types of applications.

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil

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