Due to the continuing economic troubles facing the oil industry and the availability of other sources, Shell indicated on October 6 that they had decided to end their planned delivery of North Dakota oil into their Puget Sound refinery. That put an end to the controversy that had delayed implementation for years, primarily due to efforts on the part of environmental groups.


That conflict played a role in the timing of the announcement. Just two days earlier, the Washington State Department of Ecology announced that the company would be required to install a variety of different environmental protection devices before it could proceed.

The Puget Sound plant, otherwise known as March Point, is located in suburban Anacortes. It had already been receiving oil from a Canadian pipeline and by ship from the North Slope of Alaska, deliveries that will continue unabated. With no clear sign that the market will see an uptick after watching prices get sliced in in half over the past two years, those two sources have more than enough supply available.

North Dakota oil had been delivered to four separate refineries since September 2012, two of them in Anacortes and the other pair in Cherry Point. That had led to previous protests that had increased in volatility after a June 3 derailment in Oregon that sent 15 rail cars into the Columbia River Gorge. In that particular case, four of those cars were in flames when they plunged into the water.

Had this plan gone forth, a scheduled 60,000 barrels a day would have arrived from the Bakken fields which, like many oil-based areas, has sustained a body blow during this economic downturn. Each delivery would have had as many as 102 cars bringing oil to that area, with those deliveries taking place six days a week.