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Oil refinery blaze backs need for Richmond pipeline plan: Consortium

The oil refinery blaze in Washington State is exactly the kind of incident that highlights the need for a new fuel supply to YVR.

The oil refinery blaze in Washington State is exactly the kind of incident that highlights the need for a new fuel supply to YVR.

Thats the view of Adrian Pollard, the project director for a consortium of airlines that wants to barge aviation fuel up the Fraser River and then pipe it through Richmond to the airport.

Stocks of jet fuel remain low, but not in danger of running out at YVR, which gets its fuel from two sources via a pipeline from a Burnaby refinery and tanker truck from the Cherry Point refinery just across the US Border.

Cherry Point was forced to halt production Friday after a massive fire ignited.

And the consortium (VAFFC) has said from the get go that the current supply system is unreliable and out of date.

One of the points weve been making since the beginning is the need to diversify the supply, Pollard told the News.

Not only because of the supplys capacity, but if theres only two supplies feeding us and something happens to one of those supplies, then it could have a potential impact.

YVR said on the weekend that there are no plans to ground any planes as a result of the Cherry Point incident.

However, Pollard assumed, without knowing the exact details of Cherry Points shut down, that fuel is still leaving the refinery.

Weve kind of dodged a bullet here, as there are no perceivable impacts; everything that was due to be delivered by truck was sent out, he said.

I believe theyre continuing to deliver, probably because theyve got inventory in storage.

We hold inventory at the airport for exactly those reasons and thats why were building more (storage). Theres a facility weve been building for the last two years and its almost done.

Richmond-based protest group VAPOR which is campaigning against VAFFCs new fuel supply plan said the argument that the Cherry Point blaze backs up the consortiums claim is very weak.

(Cherry Point is) producing more than 230,000 barrels a day and in the last ten years, its spent more than $500 million on upgrades, said VAPORs Carol Day.

Of the 230,000 barrels, they produce 2.5 million gallons of jet fuel every single day.

So, (VAFFC) are worried about their 80 million litre tank farm?

Day also pointed to the other supply link to YVR via the pipeline from the Burnaby refinery, saying that the line is still not being used to its full capacity.

VAFFCs plan is currently being reviewed by the BCEAO (B.C. Environmental Assessment Office) and has, over the last two years, come in for much criticism, not least from the City of Richmond.

Pollard said the consortiums perception that the two current fuel sources are unreliable forms part of its justification for the new plan.

Whether last Fridays fire will be taken into consideration by the BCEAO is another matter.

(BCEAO) is objective, I dont think they will be drawing anything from this, Pollard added.

But it does reinforce the issue that its critical to the fuel supply at YVR.

Production was idled at the BP Cherry Point refinery near Blaine, Wash., on Saturday, a day after a large fire broke out at the refinery, which is the third-largest plant on the West Coast.

The refiner supplies the majority of jet fuel at Vancouver, Seattle and Portland airports, according to BP.

A company spokesman said Saturday it's not known yet when the facility will return to normal production, as refinery workers work through the weekend to judge the extent of damage from the blaze.

VAFFC sources about 60 per cent of its fuel from BP Cherry Point and the remainder from the Chevron refinery in Burnaby.

With a file from the Province