1st megaload due at refinery today

Ap and Tribune
April 6, 2011
The oil industry’s first shipment of massive equipment along rural roadways in the Northwest is slated to arrive at a Billings, Mont., refinery this morning.

Crews from Emmert International spent more than two months transporting the first two loads from a port in Lewiston. The 300-ton loads contain coke drums to be installed at the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings.

Emmert spokesman Mark Hefty said the crews will return to Idaho to begin moving the final two loads to Billings within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Imperial Oil’s test module remains stranded in Lewiston awaiting a permit from the Montana Department of Transportation.

The shipment already has permission from Idaho Transportation Department to go from Lewiston to the Montana border on U.S. Highway 12. But the oil company has indicated it won’t move the megaload without clearance to take it to a private parking lot 7 1/2 miles inside Montana.

Imperial Oil hopes the test module proves extra-large hauls that take up two lanes of traffic can safely navigate the curves and mountain pass of U.S. 12.

It is seeking permission from ITD to move more than 100 oversized loads of Korean-made equipment for the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, on the same route. No decision has been made on the matter.

The loads would have to pull over at least every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass and move only between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Hundreds more “megaloads” are expected in coming years. Those would follow a similar route through portions of Idaho and Montana before heading north to Canada’s oil sands fields.

Opponents view the shipments as a threat to public highways with the potential to cause environmental harm.