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Oil refinery proposed for Longview revived

Port of Longview considers new crude oil refinery after months of dormancy

A proposed crude oil and biofuel refinery at Washington’s Port of Longview is again being considered by the port.

Port of Longview officials reported Tuesday, May 26, that port staff is reconsidering the project after declaring it dormant the prior month. The project was first proposed to the port in mid-2014.

“The company has returned with a revised project that made it past the Port’s initial review stage,” Ashley Helenberg, director of external affairs for the Port of Longview, stated in a news release.

Helenberg said Riverside Refining LLC, the company proposing to build the more than $800 million micro-refinery, returned to the port with a revised proposal after inactivity.

“The staff has done a high-level vetting of the project,” Helenberg said by phone Wednesday. “How many jobs? Potential revenue to the port? It’s the phase at which the staff says ‘Yes, this is a worthwhile project and deserves to be investigated.’”

Helenberg said port staff advised the port’s commissioners that they would be moving forward with preliminary negotiations with Riverside Refining. Lease terms and specific details still need to be finalized, she said.

If built, the facility will receive shipments of light sweet crude oil from Bakken shale oil fields by rail, then refine and export an estimated 45,000 barrels per day by barge to regional markets, according to information from the Port of Longview and a presentation from Riverside Refinery to the port. One-third of that fuel would be biofuels made from used cooking oils, with virgin seed and vegetable oils imported from international markets, according to the Port of Longview.

Helenberg said company officials expect the facility would employ about 150 full-time employees. A presentation given to the port last year from Riverside Refining listed average annual wages of those employees would be $75,000.

It’s not likely oil shipped by rail to the Port of Longview facility would travel through Columbia County. Crude oil currently makes its way through Columbia County on the Portland & Western Railroad-owned Astoria Line, which crosses into Oregon from Vancouver, Wash. The Astoria Line is used to tranport crude oil to the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward in Clatskanie. That site is owned by the Port of St. Helens.

Columbia Riverkeeper, a conservation and advocacy nonprofit, drew attention to the proposal last month after releasing documents it obtained through public records requests. The group released more documents related to the proposal Tuesday.

Columbia Riverkeeper has been critical of the Longview proposal and the current operations in northwest Oregon, citing environmental impacts and safety concerns among Longview residents.

“Beyond dirtying the air, there’s crude-by-rail’s poor safety record,” Liz Chapman Terhaar, a spokeswoman for Columbia Riverkeeper, stated in a news release.

Adding to the organization’s concern is a lawsuit currently pending in court from a canola seed supplier against two of Riverside Refining’s officials, alleging fraud and breach of contract.