Third oil company considers megaloads despite delays

Aug 18, 2011

Another oil company is eying the Inland Northwest as a potential corridor for oversized shipments to the Canadian oil sands. That's despite prolonged legal wrangling that has delayed the other so-called "megaloads."

The first leg of the trip is a 460-mile haul up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Port of Lewiston, Idaho. But that's the easy part.

From there, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil planned to send the megaloads over two-lane highways through Idaho and Montana. But the companies have encountered permitting delays, lawsuits and the occasional protest.

Weighing options

Even so, Calgary-based Harvest Operations Corp. is now considering the same route. Like ExxonMobil, Harvest is trying to transport Korean-built components of a factory to Alberta's oil sands.

"There are people that own port facilities, that own barges and whatnot that have positioned that this is a viable way, but we've obviously seen the concerns that it's caused in the local population," says John Zahary, president and CEO of Harvest.

He says his company is still weighing its options.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil is reducing the size of its modules so they can travel interstate highways. One route would go from the Port of Pasco through Spokane.

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