ORE. (March 4, 2014) – For Immediate Release
Portland Statement Regarding Crude Oil by Rail
the course of the last year, the Port of Portland has received numerous
inquiries about our interest and capability to host facilities related to the
storage and/or transfer of U.S.- and Canadian-produced crude oil arriving by
rail. Interest in Port of Portland facilities is understandable given the
Port's considerable property ownership at the nexus of two transcontinental
railroads and a deep-water navigation channel.
sudden and remarkable transformation of North American oil production, derived
from shale and oil sands, is driving much of this new activity. Oil production
from the Bakken, as an example, has grown from 120,000 barrels per day in 2008
to more than one million barrels per day in 2013. Canadian oil imports to the
U.S. have increased 57 percent over the last decade replacing imported oil from
Mexico and Venezuela.
are many benefits from this energy market transformation. Most importantly,
eliminating dependence on foreign oil from countries that are unfriendly to the
United States has significant and positive geo-political implications. A reduction
in U.S. balance of payments, mitigation of the need to send American soldiers
to defend national energy interests, as well as the obvious economic benefits
of the U.S. acting as a global stabilizing force in the price of energy are all
tangible examples of how North American energy production is a game-changer.
energy-intensive industries like steel and aluminum manufacturing and metal
fabrication now have a global economic advantage due to lower energy input
costs. No doubt, other U.S. manufacturing sectors will derive long term
advantages due to dependable sources of low-cost natural gas, all derivatives
from the oil production transformation now taking place. All of these energy
developments are sure to offer considerable benefits for the United States and
of crude oil by rail is key to this discussion because the U.S. refining
capacity was historically developed to receive crude by ocean-going vessels.
Transport capacity from production regions to refineries via pipeline is
seriously constrained or non-existent, creating both demand and opportunity for
large quantities of crude oil to move by rail.
the same time, there are concerns regarding the safe transportation of crude
oil by rail. Since 2008, there have been approximately 10 derailments. There
have also been several recent events, particularly involving the transport of
light Bakken crude oil in rail cars, which represent considerable cause for
concern triggering a close examination of the transportation network. However,
we note with interest the recent affirmative steps by the major North American
railroads to begin addressing some of these issues, including lowering train
speed, a call for safer train cars, increases in track inspections and
increases in emergency response training.
in our community and elsewhere around the country might take the position that
transportation of any carbon whose ultimate use is for combustion is
undesirable because of the cumulative impacts such combustion may have on the
climate. National and local discussion on carbon-based fuel use is sometimes
simplified to an opposition to any use due to concerns over greenhouse gas
emissions. We believe the subject is more complex than that for a couple of
single most significant factor in the reduction in the growth of greenhouse
gases over the last few years in the U.S. has been the substitution of natural
gas as a replacement for coal.
U.S. economy and our daily use of various fossil-fuel-based transportation modes
such as automobiles, trains, buses and airplanes require a balanced approach to
powering America while continuing to improve environmental conditions.
the Port believes that we must continue to look at the entire supply chain for
energy on which we remain so dependent. Many efforts are underway to reduce
that dependence and they are commendable but the achievements in terms of
overall consumption remains fairly modest.
Port is interested in being part of an American energy renaissance brought on
by this remarkable domestic oil transformation. However, we do not believe that
we have sufficient answers to the important questions regarding environmental
and physical safety to proceed with any type of development at this time.
like the rest of those monitoring this energy transformation—which includes our
state, city, and local communities—are following developments with interest
and, where appropriate, will engage with policy makers, our community, and the
transportation industry to ensure that the important issues surrounding the
safe and secure transportation of these products are fully addressed.
interest will begin to grow once we have the confidence that transportation of
crude oil by rail continues to meet all state, federal and local transportation
rules and regulations and exhibits a sufficient accident-free record for a
sustained period of time.
Port of Portland's mission is to enhance the region's economy and quality of
life by providing efficient cargo and air passenger access to national and
global markets. In support of this mission, we are closely monitoring
developments in the crude-oil-by-rail market and will continue to stay informed
about the steps the rail industry and others are taking to provide for the safe
and efficient transportation of crude-oil. This will ensure that the planning
for facilities that accommodate such cargoes can be developed with appropriate
safety, regulatory and environmental protection standards.