Megaload test run departure delayed

Equipment is late arriving at Port of Lewiston

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune
March 4, 2011
A test shipment for the ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil megaloads has been delayed.

The test shipment was slated to leave Lewiston on Monday, but now no departure date is on the books, said Adam Rush, a spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department in Boise.

ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil requested an extension for the haul because equipment needed for the trip has not yet arrived at the Port of Lewiston, Rush wrote in an e-mail.

The oversized rig may be the first of more than 100 megaloads
that ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil trucks across Idaho on U.S. Highway 12. Aside from the test shipment, each would carry a Korean-manufactured module for a processing plant at the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada.

The test shipment is 24 feet wide, 208 feet long and 30 feet high, dimensions identical to ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil’s largest megaload, but at 508,000 pounds, it weighs a little less.

The test trip is supposed to detect any potential problems with navigating the curvy canyon road that haven’t surfaced in two years of planning. The trip will take three nights, stopping at Kooskia, 23 miles west of Powell, and in Montana, Rush wrote.

The extra-large transport can be disassembled after it reaches Montana. That state only recently gave the oil company permission to upgrade or build turnouts that would enable it to meet rules about pulling over to allow traffic to pass.

The test shipment is the only megaload of ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil that has the OK from ITD.

ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil’s request is still for the 207 modules it originally proposed, even though it previously announced 93 would take other routes. A total of 33 are being cut in half at the Port of Lewiston and others are taking the interstate highway from the Port of Vancouver.

The oil company hasn’t asked ITD about using a different road for the 33 modules, Rush wrote.

Meanwhile, the second megaload of ConocoPhillips carrying a half drum from Lewiston to a Billings, Mont., refinery has been making steady progress this week. It takes up two lanes of traffic, has to pull over at least every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass and can only travel between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

It arrived 23 miles west of Powell at 2:18 a.m. Thursday. It was expected to cover another 30 miles east toward Montana late Thursday and early this morning. If that trip went as planned, it will have only one more segment on the road to reach Montana. There the half drum will join another and the two loads will convoy to Billings in a trip expected to take about two weeks.

Two other half drums of ConocoPhillips remain at the Port of Lewiston and may move at the end of March or early April. The drums were manufactured in Japan.

Williams may be contacted at
[email protected] or (208) 848-2261.