Utah facility could cut region's gasoline, diesel costs | News

Utah Facility Aims to Reduce Gasoline and Diesel Prices in the Region

A striking new set of large storage tanks has recently been constructed, catching the attention of drivers on Interstate 70 in Utah, near the Colorado border. This development could lead to reduced fuel prices for many of these drivers as early as this year.

A branch of the Houston-based Enterprise Products, a company specializing in energy pipelines, processing, and storage, is in the process of creating a terminal. This terminal will serve as a pickup point for gasoline and diesel fuel transported from the Gulf Coast, destined for local gas stations.

Rick Rainey, the Vice President of Public Relations at Enterprise, shared in an interview that this terminal will link directly to the United States’ largest refining complex in the Houston area. This connection will offer retailers an alternative source for refined products. Consequently, consumers in Colorado and Utah could enjoy lower fuel prices.

Rainey explained that the goal is to supply fuels that are not only reliable but also more affordable than the current prices in this region. He pointed out that the fuel arriving from the Gulf Coast will be cheaper than the existing rates.

Skyler McKinley, a regional director for AAA, admitted he was unaware of the construction of this facility. However, he acknowledged its potential to decrease gas and diesel prices in the area. He noted that typically, the closer a terminal is, the lower the fuel prices for consumers.

Currently, fuel reaches the Grand Junction area from other Utah terminals and the Suncor refinery in Commerce City. Due to mandates to reduce ground-level ozone in the northern Front Range during summer, this refinery will switch to a more expensive, reformulated gas. McKinley highlighted that this change has previously added 30 cents a gallon to fuel prices in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. He argued that it’s unfair for residents outside the Front Range to bear this cost for a local issue, suggesting the new terminal could level the playing field for all gas consumers.

The project involves nine tanks with a combined capacity of 360,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel. This terminal, referred to as the Grand Junction Terminal by Enterprise, is part of the Texas Western (TW) Products System. This system includes four terminals, with two in New Mexico and one in West Texas, all aimed at lowering fuel prices in these regions.

Rainey highlighted that Enterprise has long operated a pipeline system transporting refined products from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. The TW Products system initiative was appealing as it utilized parts of their existing network, avoiding the need for new pipelines. This approach saves time and money while enhancing efficiency.

Enterprise is adapting segments of two natural gas liquids pipeline systems to facilitate the transportation of gasoline and diesel. This adaptation allows for a batched delivery system, enabling the continued transport of natural gas liquids alongside the new products. Rainey mentioned that batched delivery means transporting multiple products through the same pipeline at different times.

The company recently announced the operational status of its West Texas terminal. It anticipates that the New Mexico terminals and the local one will commence operations later in the first half of this year. Rainey did not disclose the cost of the Utah facility, noting that Enterprise typically does not share specific project costs.

The project is expected to create 182 construction jobs and will employ 14 full-time workers once operational. Located just south of I-70 at Exit 220, near the Colorado border, the site was chosen for its easy access to the interstate. This location minimizes the need for trucks to travel extra miles, enhancing safety and convenience for major markets like Salt Lake City, Denver, Durango, and Las Vegas that are currently undersupplied.

The terminal is situated on an 82.7-acre plot on Utah state trust lands. Enterprise has secured a 50-year lease for this land, with an initial annual rent of $85,600 for the first five years. A $200,000 bond has also been submitted to the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).

Grand County’s planning director, Elissa Martin, mentioned that the county collaborated with the developers to establish a maintenance agreement for county roads leading to the site. Additionally, Enterprise has entered into a 30-year access agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM has granted a right of way for a private commercial road, anticipating frequent use by fuel-hauling trucks.

Rainey stated that 10,000-gallon tanker trucks would transport fuel from the terminal. Enterprise emphasizes its commitment to safety, with a comprehensive management program designed to prevent incidents and mitigate impacts in case of unforeseen issues. The tanks comply with federal regulations and undergo regular inspections. Preventative measures, such as dikes and fire suppression systems, are in place to manage spills and fires effectively.

The site will be monitored from an onsite control room, with the pipelines supplying the terminal under constant surveillance from a central control center. This setup allows for remote system management. Rainey also mentioned that Enterprise has engaged with local emergency management and fire district officials to explain the facility’s operations and emergency response equipment. The company has committed to participating in a drill with the Lower Valley Fire District before the year’s end.