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Oil shipments through Churchill?

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

A proposal to ship crude oil through northern Manitoba's Port of Churchill was the subject of a community meeting last week. Officials from OmniTRAX Canada were in Thompson to speak about the proposal on Aug. 15. Darcy Brede, head of OmniTRAX's parent company, told the Winnipeg Free Press that negotiations are ongoing with about 25 Alberta companies interested in shipping oil through the port. A test run is needed to demonstrate the viability of the plan, so OmniTRAX hopes to ship 330,000 barrels of crude oil from the port in a trial this October. Starting either next year or in 2015, OmniTRAX plans to transport Bakken and Western Intermediate sweet crude oil on 80-tanker car Hudson Bay Railway trains from The Pas through Wabowden, Thompson Junction, Gillam and to Churchill. The Port of Churchill has the largest fuel terminal in the Arctic and is North America's only deep water Arctic seaport that offers a gateway between North America and Mexico, South America, Europe and the Middle East. The Port is looking to diversify its customer base following last year's removal of monopoly powers from the Canadian Wheat Board, its dominant customer for many years. Now, if Brede has his way, OmniTRAX, will be competing for the business of delivering sweet crude oil to discharge at the Port of Rotterdam for northern European consumption. Brede told the community meeting that he thinks OmniTRAX can compete with Middle Eastern and African terminals for northern European business by shortening the route from the Port of Churchill through Hudson Bay and the circumpolar Arctic, and using smaller vessels, making sweet crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan cost-competitive for the first time. 'The distance between Churchill and Europe is shorter than the distance from the Great Lakes over to Europe, so we have a competitive advantage,' Brede said. _ With files from John Barker, Thompson Citizen