More big loads arrive in Lewiston

Imperial Oil is expected to have 40 modules waiting at port by December

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Monday, October 25, 2010
Eight more Korean-made modules for Imperial Oil arrived at the Port of Lewiston Sunday, joining a dozen other loads of oversized cargo that have yet to receive permission to roll up U.S. Highway 12.

The barge and tug with the new shipment could be seen Sunday afternoon from the Lewiston levee between Memorial Bridge and the railroad bridge.

“I believe everything has gone smoothly,” said David Doeringsfeld, Lewiston’s port manager. “We’re very pleased to be working with Imperial Oil on the project.”

Eight other modules from Imperial Oil arrived at the port the week of Oct. 15. Doeringsfeld expects a total of 40 to reach Lewiston before the Snake and Columbia river system is closed to barge traffic in early December for 14 weeks for rehabilitation of the locks at Lower Monumental, The Dalles and John Day. But he said he doesn’t know when the next group will arrive.

The port has ample room to store all 40 modules, as well as four loads from ConocoPhillips that came in May and are heading to a Billings, Mont., refinery, Doeringsfeld said. The majority will consume two lanes of traffic.

The Imperial Oil modules are bound for the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada, where a crew of 2,500 is working on a site near an open pit mine for bitumen.

The bitumen is a heavy oil. After the clay and sand is removed from it, the bitumen will be run through the plant being constructed with the modules in a process that will leave it light enough to be transported by pipelines to refineries that make products like gasoline and diesel fuel.

How long the Port of Lewiston will store the oil companies’ equipment is not clear. The
Idaho Supreme Court is deciding a case where opponents of the loads contend the conditions the Idaho Transportation Department would impose on the loads aren’t stringent enough to protect public safety and the pristine river corridor.

ITD would require the loads to travel at night with an Idaho State Patrol escort and pull over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass. ITD has indicated it won’t issue permits for the Imperial Oil loads until the Supreme Court issues its decision in the ConocoPhillips case.

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