Uinta pipeline project on a "permanent hold"
May 8, 2015
The Uinta Express Pipeline project is officially on a "permanent hold," according to an email Tesoro spokesperson Cindy Gubler sent to Summit County.
In an email to The Park Record Friday afternoon, Gubler said Tesoro is not "planning to advance the project beyond its current stage," citing current market conditions. Gubler said Tesoro has been performing an "internal review" of their proposed projects for several months, including the Uinta Express Pipeline.
"Unfortunately, this evaluation stage has coincided with unfavorable market conditions and this downturn has added uncertainties about the economics of shipping crude oil through the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline," Gubler stated in the email.
However, Gubler added Tesoro "may reevaluate moving forward with this project in the future under more favorable conditions."
Multiple local and regional entities were involved throughout the past three years with the pipeline discussions and had vested interest in not only its placement, but also its implications to the surrounding environment.
Doug Evans, chief technical officer of Mountain Regional Water District, said he was shocked when he received the email.
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"This takes a big burden off of us," Evans said. "The county and the water entities spent a lot of time working on this and I think this is a big relief to a lot of people.
"So I’m glad all the parties worked hard on this," he said. "I think I speak for all the water entities when I say that this is a relief."
County Council member Roger Armstrong echoed Evans’ sentiments.
"The pipeline was not something that any of us as either elected officials county staff or residents of the community was looking forward to having located in our county," Armstrong said. "I’m relieved that they have elected to stop the process."
Considering the work and hours that went into exploring the project, Armstrong said the county did benefit from the process.
"We didn’t have a pipeline ordinance in place before this process started and this allowed us to examine that and develop an ordnance that we are happy with," he said. "I think that was worth the effort."
The new ordinance outlines criteria designed to regulate land uses, setbacks, and environmental hazards, including watershed and wetland protection.
"The rest of the effort was really intended to protect our environmental resources and I don’t think that effort was wasted," he added.
The 135-mile, heated pipeline was intended to transport approximately 60,000 barrels of waxy crude per day, in the hopes of reducing tanker trucks on U.S. 40 and Interstate 80 carrying oil from sites in the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City refineries.
Utah State Rep. Kraig Powell, a Republican from Heber City whose district includes Park City, was involved with the project since its inception. Powell said he attended several meetings and was privately briefed by Tesoro representatives.
The active involvement by local entities, especially Summit County, has put an appropriate level of scrutiny on the project and raised several important questions, Powell said.
"I recognized that there were pros and cons to the application and I thought that those needed to be fully vetted by all the different players," he said.
Powell’s involvement with the project stemmed from his concerns about tanker trucks traveling on U.S. 40 through Heber City. His constituents want to see that traffic reduced.
"But it appears that relief will not be in the form of a pipeline," he said. "What it means is that we will need to diligently monitor the truck traffic on the various routes and roads that are used for transporting oil. It also means we need to advance the other possible remedies, such as new road construction, bypass roads and even the possibility of railroad transportation."
The indefinite hold is indicative of the economy always being in flux, Powell said.
"We just have to be on our toes all the time to make sure we are responding to the current situations and protecting the safety and health of the citizens and the environment," Powell said.
This is the email that was sent to The Park Record regarding the status of the Uinta Express Pipeline.
To: Park Record
From: Cindy Gubler, Tesoro spokesperson
Date: May 8, 2015
Re: Uinta Express Pipeline Update
Over the past several months Tesoro has been performing an internal review of their proposed projects including the Uinta Express Pipeline project to determine where they fit in their portfolio going forward. Unfortunately, this evaluation stage has coincided with unfavorable market conditions and this downturn has added uncertainties about the economics of shipping crude oil through the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline. Because of this Tesoro is not planning to advance the project beyond its current stage and are putting further development on permanent hold. Tesoro and all of us who worked on the project are pleased with the positive engagement, community awareness and support received for the project. We greatly appreciate the hard work and the strong collaboration from all the stakeholders who have invested time and expertise. Tesoro completed a lot of great work with the EIS and the engineering review phase and may reevaluate moving forward with this project in the future under more favorable conditions. Tesoro is committed to being part of the community. Utah is an important area for them. They’ve been here a long time and look forward to being here a lot longer. They’ve made several investments in their operation in Utah and will continue to look for ways to invest further.