Pipeline to progress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010



ST. JAMES – State and Parish leaders gathered in the west bank community of St. James Thursday to celebrate the official opening of a state-of-the-art rail terminal for the transport of crude oil.

The terminal, owned by U.S. Development Group LLC of Houston, is the first in a planned nationwide network of rail terminals to handle crude oil.

“It’s sort of a rolling pipeline that connects the refineries in this area to sources of crude in other parts of the country,” said terminal manager Joe Williams. “It’s an opportunity for us to safely and efficiently supply refineries with crude from wells throughout the U.S. and Canada instead of going overseas.”

Williams explained the St. James terminal receives crude oil shipments from a variety of domestic oil-producing areas via the Union Pacific Railroad. The terminal offloads the oil and transfers it via pipeline to the adjacent Plains All American Pipeline terminal, a storage facility for crude oil and refined products.

“With the St. James Rail Terminal, we are applying our expertise in designing, developing and operating large-scale logistics terminals for the crude market,” said U.S. Development Group president and CEO Dan Borgen. “This gives us the flexibility to expand in order to support future growth.”

The rail terminal consists of several miles of rail track from the Union Pacific Railroad and a fully automated 26-slot rail rack for offloading of materials from train cars. Williams said the facility features an initial capacity of 65,000 barrels of oil a day, which is then sent to the Plains All American Facility for refining. He said each railcar is manually inspected for quantity and quality before being hooked into the pipeline.

“The terminal is equipped to handle up to 100 rail cars a day, which is about the size of an average freight train,” Williams said. “The system gives this area expanded access to both domestic and Canadian oil supplies.”

Williams said the facility gives oil producers in St. James much more dependable access to a steady supply of crude oil. He said by transporting crude domestically, it improves market price in the region by decreasing the reliance on crude oil from foreign markets.

“This is something the entire industry is working toward,” Williams said. “Terminals like this give the industry more bang for its buck.”

Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, who was present at the opening Thursday, said although the facility only brings a limited number of jobs to the region, terminals like this bring the possibility for future economic growth

“It represents the type of investment that will help ensure Louisiana’s economic prosperity and the vitality of its energy industry going forward,” Angelle said. “It is a good start and could lead to a network of these facilities up and down the river in this region.”