Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) The study looked at how much oil and gas production could be lost over the next 30 years because of transportation bottlenecks.
More Uinta crude coming — along with transport worries
Oil production » Planned increase in crude could mean one or two semis per minute on US-40.
First Published Aug 15 2012 02:47 pm • Last Updated Feb 08 2013 09:59 pm

Officials who envision a doubling or more of crude oil traveling soon from the Uinta Basin to refineries in North Salt Lake say they frankly do not know how to handle transportation problems that could be created with extra tanker trucks on highways.

But legislators heard Wednesday that a study is beginning to look at options including converting US-40 ­— now just a two-lane road in many stretches — into a "super highway," adding a railroad to the basin, or adding facilities to partially refine crude there so that it could be transported through pipelines.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, the Senate chairman of the Transportation Interim Committee, told members that Newfield Exploration recently contracted to deliver 40,000 barrels of oil a day beginning next year to Wasatch Front refineries. Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee said other deals in the works with other companies could increase that to 100,000 barrels a day.

"So the question is, if we add 50,000 barrels a day, what do we do with it" on the highways? Van Tassell said. "We don’t know the answer." But he said the first phase of a study about options is under way and jointly funded by local counties, business groups and the Utah Department of Transportation.

"We’ve got to look at everything, whether it’s building a superhighway on US-40 … or we look at pipeline corridors," railroads or partial refining, he said.

Extra challenges come because Uinta Basin crude is waxy. If it is not heated while transported, Van Tassell said it solidifies like a candle — which makes transportation by pipeline difficult and expensive at best. But partially refining it could allow it to stay in liquid form for movement by pipeline.

Van Tassell said a comprehensive, workable plan is needed "because another one of the counties I represent, Wasatch County, really doesn’t want to see one semi truck a minute going down Main Street. And that’s where we’re headed, maybe two" trucks a minute.

"The transportation needs are going to be tremendous," McKee said.

John Thomas, director of planning for UDOT, said the first phase of the study is now looking at demands the Uinta Basin energy industry could create for transportation. He said later phases, if the study continues, would look more in detail at feasibility of various options, conduct required environmental studies and lead to design of projects.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.