Image courtesy of NASA

There are almost two dozen U.S. refineries located in Great Lakes states hoping to buy big amounts Canadian oil sands crude. Getting it to the refineries is the hard part, and that’s where the Great Lakes come in.

The Great Lakes carries huge volumes of  petroleum products but crude makes up less than 1% of that figure, according to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But Superior-based Elkhorn Industries may be about to help change that.

It applied for a permit to repair 700 feet of dockwall, with plans for a crude terminal on the site.

The regional director of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Department, John Gozdzialski, said his group is likely to give approval with certain conditions on December 26.

The Elkhorn project would include an oil terminal that would allow Canadian crude to travel from Wisconsin across Lake Superior to Lake Michigan, and on to refineries in Whiting, Ind., Lemont, Ill., and possibly Detroit, Mich. near Lake Erie, the Financial Post said.

Other potential destinations could include Sarnia, Ontario on Lake Huron, or even East Coast refineries, according to conservation groups who are following the project.

“The dock is viewed as key to a plan by Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P. to build an oil terminal close to its existing oil refinery in Superior. Earlier in the year, the Indianapolis-based company announced a $20-million project that would transport northern crude oil to a loading dock off the coast of Lake Superior,” the Financial Post said.

Approval of the dock wall could lead to oil sands shipments on the Great Lakes by 2015.

Calumet’s Great Lakes plan face environmental opposition but the local population wants it to go ahead, the report said.

“It is an issue that the region needs to confront and make a choice, whether the Great Lakes should become a thoroughfare for tar sands crude oil,” a spokesperson for conservation group Alliance for the Great Lakes told the Financial Post.


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