Langley has become a transshipment point for crude oil from Alberta, thanks to a lack of capacity on a major pipeline.
Since May, Chevron has been hauling oil via train tanker cars from Alberta to Langley, then transferring the oil onto trucks at Bulk Plus Logistics in Port Kells.
The oil is then hauled across the Fraser River to the refinery in north Burnaby.
“They complete that circuit on a regular basis,” said the Chevron refinery’s spokesperson, Ray Lord.
The same oil would normally flow through Langley on the Trans Mountain pipeline, owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.
However, the Trans Mountain is the only pipeline linking Alberta and the coast, and it is oversubscribed. Kinder Morgan recently told its customers, including Chevron, that they will be limited to 33 per cent of their requested oil volumes in September.
Lord said the amount of crude delivered by the pipeline has been an issue for about a year.
While the trains-and-trucks route can’t replace the pipeline by any means, he said it is being used to supplement the pipe’s flow.
Using the trucks is a huge increase in cost for the refinery, Lord said.
“These measures represent costs of about four to five times higher than the pipeline costs,” Lord said.
The transfer from train to truck in Langley could end by next year, Lord said.
Chevron’s refinery is near a rail line, and the company is looking at creating its own direct transfer point. That would allow oil to arrive on train tankers and be offloaded directly into the refinery.
Kinder Morgan has applied to twin its existing pipeline, which would presumably eliminate many of the supply problems for customers, both on the coast and overseas.
However, the project has been drawing fire from B.C. environmentalists who say it would damage waterways crossed by the pipe.
The current pipeline can move 300,000 barrels of unrefined oil per day.
- with files from the Vancouver Sun