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Global Partners looks to expand, diversify

Company eyes infrastructure upgrades to reboot ethanol operations at Port Westward

Photo Credit: FILE - A unit train on the Portland & Western Railroad in Scappoose. More trains carrying crude oil are expected to move through the area if Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery expands its operations as planned.Global Partners LP is poised to invest an estimated $50 million to $70 million to expand Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward, a company representative said at a Port of St. Helens meeting Aug. 27.

The company is permitted to refine ethanol and transload crude oil at its site it leases from the Port of St. Helens.

Daniel Luckett, who is the general manager for Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery, said the current setup at the facility only allows Global Partners to work with crude oil or ethanol, but not both.

Global Partners currently transloads crude oil at the site and now plans to expand infrastructure to produce ethanol. Part of the company’s plans include adding rail unloading stations to the 12 currently in place, adding holding tanks, replacing existing pipeline to the dock, adding additional pipeline, expanding the existing Beaver Dock to add a pipe bridge at Berth 1, and extending Hermo Road.

Six new tanks would be added, four for crude oil service and two for ethanol.

“Global Partners wants to develop the facility to both produce ethanol and transload crude oil and ethanol simultaneously,” Luckett stated via email. “The upgrades are necessary to achieve this objective.”

Luckett did not say how many additional trains could transport to the site to support its ethanol operations. The Port of St. Helens has limited the number of unit trains that can run across the Port Westward rail spur, however, to 24.

Luckett said during his presentation to the port that Global wants to decrease the unloading time of its unit trains and reduce rail movements and road blocks. To achieve the same goals, Portland & Western, which owns the rail line, announced to the port this week that it plans to increase train speed in some segments of its Portland-Astoria rail line to 25 mph.

Joel Haka, the senior vice president of Pacific Region Railroads for Genesee & Wyoming Inc., which owns Portland & Western Railroad, clarified to port commissioners and the public that the speed will remain low in Rainier, where it isn’t safe to operate at 25 mph.

“At the end of the day, we need to try to get those trains up to 25 miles an hour where possible and safe to do so,” Haka said.

If completed, Global officials expect the project to create hundreds of new construction jobs and up to 30 permanent jobs, according to Luckett’s presentation to the port.

Patrick Trapp, executive director of the Port of St. Helens, said the port will review the project plans to ensure they are consistent with Global’s lease agreement.

“There’s a conceptual approval, which is what they’re looking for at this point,” Trapp said. “Global Partners’ intent has always been to diversify commodities out there.”

Luckett said Global is working with its neighbor at Port Westward, Portland General Electric, to make sure its expansion plans don’t interfere with PGE operations.

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