Company buys St. James rail terminal

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Plains All American Pipeline L.P., of Houston, will acquire four crude oil rail terminals, including one in St. James, and a terminal now in development in California, from U.S. Development Group for roughly $500 million.

The St. James terminal can unload around 140,000 barrels of oil per day.

“These assets represent a very attractive addition to our existing North American rail activities, substantially improving our scale, scope and flexibility,” Plains Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Greg L. Armstrong said in a news release.

Oil shale formations, including those in Texas and North Dakota, either lack pipelines or the capacity to handle the potential new production. In North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, the bottleneck has resulted in lower prices. Producers can make more money by using trains to move the oil to Louisiana, where spot prices are higher.

Earlier this year, NuStar Energy, of San Antonio, Texas, said it planned to spend around $40 million to double the capacity of its rail terminal in St. James. The terminal, like Plains’ facility, can now unload 140,000 barrels of oil per day.

Plains owns a network of approximately 18,000 miles of pipelines, 120 million barrels of storage capacity and handles more than 3 million barrels of physical product on a daily basis.

The deal will increase Plains’ crude loading capacity to about 250,000 barrels per day, with five facilities located in or near key producing areas extending from the Rocky Mountains to South Texas. The company’s unloading capacity is expected to rise to 335,000 barrels per day with terminals on the East Coast, Gulf Coast and West Coast.

The company expects to have about 6,700 railcars under lease by the end of 2013.