Port budget counts mega-load money

No agreement signed

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Port of Lewiston has budgeted $100,000 in revenue from Imperial Oil in the coming fiscal year.

But the port still has no signed agreement with the subsidiary of ExxonMobil for the more than 200 big loads the company wants to ship by river to the Port of Lewiston, then haul by truck on U.S. Highway 12 to the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.

“If it happens, I think it will be significantly more than ($100,000),” said David Doeringsfeld, the port’s manager, who gave his commissioners an update on the project at their Tuesday meeting.

One reason the estimate isn’t more specific is the port has a per-ton fee and not all of the Imperial Oil loads will be the same size.

About 60 of the loads are supposed to be in the largest category of 290 tons, said Todd Maddock, a port commissioner.

And no charges have been established for storage.

The $100,000 doesn’t include about $25,000 the port is getting for its roll in unloading and storing four oversized loads for Conoco Phillips, which are bound for a Montana oil refinery. Those loads are stalled at the port pending an Idaho Supreme Court hearing on Oct. 1 in litigation challenging the permits the Idaho Transportation Department issued that would have allowed the loads to travel.

The potential for new business comes at a critical time for the port. Every major category of its income other than property taxes fell from fiscal year 2009 to 2010, including rentals, loading and unloading barges, and storage of mostly paper goods for Clearwater Paper in a 150,000-square-foot warehouse.

The container yard revenue was at levels not seen since the late 1970s and, like the other sectors of income, isn’t expected to be better in 2011.

How much the money from the oil companies will help isn’t clear. The port just finished a $260,000 project to replace aging fenders on its container dock that was covered mostly with federal money as it prepared to accept more large-scale cargo.

The port is also seeking $1.8 million from the federal government to double the length of its dock, once again citing the potential use by oil companies as one of several reasons the expansion is needed.

In other business, Doeringsfeld reported that EKO compost facility wants a three-year extension of its $40,740 annual port lease.

The lease is scheduled to expire in June. A port extension would make it coincide with when the city’s agreement with EKO ends, Doeringsfeld said. “I will keep the city informed about what our agreement looks like.”

Commissioners took no action on the report.

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