UPDATE 1-Tesoro- West Coast crude rail unloading to hit nearly 1 mln bpd

Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:33pm EST
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* West Coast offloading expected to reach 910,000 bpd by 2015

* Rail-to-barge project part of growth

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Independent refiner Tesoro Corp sees rail unloading capacity all along the U.S. West Coast for North Dakota Bakken crude oil growing to nearly 1 million barrels per day through 2015, an executive said on Tuesday.

The projected jump to 910,000 bpd from the industry's current unloading capacity of 218,000 bpd - an increase of more than 300 percent - includes Tesoro's $100 million joint-venture railport project in Washington state, Keith Casey, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Tesoro, said on a webcast of the company's annual meeting with analysts.

Other refiners and logistics companies are building or seeking to build smaller projects to bring in cheaper crude via rail as well.

"Loading capacity is keeping pace with production growth," Casey said.

The growth will accommodate increasing efforts by West Coast refiners to tap inland U.S. and Canadian heavy crudes via rail - cheaper alternatives to imports and Alaskan crude - as no major pipelines move crude to that largely isolated market.

Tesoro's rail-to-barge project with Savage Services is the largest of the offloading projects announced so far.   Continued...