Supertankers set to export tar sands from the East Coast by 2015

Belledune

Calgary-based Secure Energy Services Inc. plans to begin construction early in 2015 on a rail-loading terminal near the village of Belledune, New Brunswick that would enable the export of tar sands bitumen by supertanker to buyers in India, Europe or the U.S. Gulf Coast later next year.

The Globe and Mail reports, "The terminal would have capacity to export 120,000 barrels a day (b/d) of crude transported by rail from oil fields in Western Canada, including fast-growing oil sands production. ...The terminal would receive crude from up to two 120-car trains a day using Canadian National Railway Co. lines. A 1.2-million-barrel tank farm is planned at the site, with potential to add another 1.8-million barrels of storage capacity. The crude would be transferred by pipeline to tankers big enough to hold up to 650,000 barrels of oil."

The Port of Belledune website says, "Offering some of the shortest shipping routes between large European and North American Markets, the Port of Belledune opens up a sea of unlimited opportunity to shipping companies as well as importers and exporters. The year-round marine transport facility is a modern, deep water point of access to key north-eastern markets and global markets. The Port has proven itself capable of handling any and all goods, offering flexible services, creative solutions, and excellent rates."

The newspaper notes, "In August, [Secure Energy Services] paid $107-million in cash and stock to acquire Predator Midstream Ltd., a Calgary-based logistics firm that specializes in rail shipments of crude. Today, work on the terminal is being led by Chaleur Terminals Inc., a unit of Predator."

And it comments, "Canada’s oil industry is looking east for new export outlets amid protracted delays building multibillion-dollar pipeline infrastructure to the West Coast. ...The plans for the Belledune rail facility show Canadian oil producers are seeking alternative ways to reach higher-priced international markets that don’t involve lengthy regulatory hearings or major environmental studies. ...A plan by TransCanada Corp. to shuttle as much as 1.1 million b/d from Alberta to export points in Quebec and New Brunswick has encountered pushback from eastern gas distributors concerned about losing capacity, threatening to delay the $12-billion project."

The Belledune Port Authority plans to finalize the sale of 250 acres of coastal land to Secure Energy Services next month. It's not promising that the Port of Belledune website boasts, "The Port of Belledune is operated by a local port authority allowing it to make quick decisions based on sound business management principles."

The first shipments from the export terminal on Chaleur Bay into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean are scheduled to begin in late 2015 or early 2016.