Company explores Albany-New Jersey crude pipeline

The proposed pipeline. (Click to view the full image)
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ALBANY—A proposed pipeline project will bring crude oil from the Port of Albany to New Jersey and reduce Hudson River barge traffic.

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings is actively exploring a pipeline to connect the Albany port to Linden, according to George Bochis, the vice president of development for Pilgrim.

The proposed pipeline would largely follow existing rights of way along the I-87 and I-287 corridor, and would reduce the amount of crude oil being ferried down the Hudson River, Bochis said.

Project planners have begun talks with New Jersey towns about gaining permission to cross public lands, and Pilgrim has established a website with information about the project.

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The proposed pipeline would carry up to 200,000 barrels a day of light, sweet crude now coming to the Port of Albany from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota and Montana. It would not be used to transport heavy tar sands crude, which requires a heated pipeline, according to Bochis.

“The pressure of the crude product coming in to Albany has created a market,” he said.

The project is still in its early stages, and proposals will not be submitted to federal and state regulators for about six months. If approved, the pipeline would not be operational until 2016 at the earliest.

The proposed pipeline would flow in both directions, transporting up to 200,000 barrels a day of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and jet and aviation fuel to Albany from the New York Harbor. It would also connect rail loading facilities in Newburgh and Selkirk.

Bochis said the pipeline is a safer alternative than transporting oil by barge and ship on the Hudson, and said it could also prevent service disruptions in the winter, when river ice can affect crude oil shipments.

Port of Albany manager Richard Hendrick said he had not heard about the project, but said it would likely reduce the barge traffic on the river. He said in January and February alone, 50 barges loaded crude oil at the port, and the average barge transports 80,000 to 100,000 barrels at a time, though some can carry up to 4 million barrels.

It's unclear how the pipeline would affect the rapid increase of oil into Albany and whether or not it would increase the amount now handled there.

Two companies have been approved to move about 2.8 billion gallons of oil through the port. Houston-based Buckeye Partners and Global Partners of Massachusetts have both expressed interest in shipping oil on the pipeline, Bochis said.

City residents and environmentalists are closely watching a new boiler facility proposed for the Port of Albany that could effectively open New York as a major hub in the transportation of tar sands crude from Western Canada. The proposed pipeline appears to be separate from any plans to bring in heavy crude.