Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway (SLGW), BNSF Railway and Utah Railway closely coordinated the handling of unit trains of crude oil destined to an Andeavor (formerly known as Tesoro), refinery during an unexpected pipeline outage in Salt Lake City, Utah. This unique collaboration among the railroads supported the delivery of crude oil to Andeavor during the five-week pipeline outage in February and March of 2017, with BNSF, SLGW and Utah Railway handling over 650 additional railcars via the SLGW transload facility. Both SLGW and BNSF received the prestigious Tesoro Supplier Recognition Award for Innovation and Value Delivery for the rail transportation of crude oil during this outage and subsequent poor weather conditions.
“BNSF responded to Andeavor’s needs in an agile way and approached us with the opportunity to serve our mutual customer,” said Mariana Mavor, SLGW CEO and director of business development. “Our communication with BNSF is excellent, and we want to commend the hard work of our team and BNSF’s team.”
SLGW is a privately-owned shortline railroad that operates 16 miles of track within Salt Lake City and the surrounding area. The railroad moves commodities such as aggregates, cement, plastics, petroleum products, lumber and steel. With four transloading facilities and a total storage capability of over 700 railcars, SLGW’s ability to expand in anticipation of customer needs has given them great competitive advantage.
“Our transloading facility was large enough to handle the customer’s sudden need to move an average of 22 cars a day,” Mavor said. “Our storage facility, located about five miles away from the refinery, helped with Andeavor’s lack of space and allowed us to help them recover quickly from their shortage.”
Undergoing a “reinvention” of themselves in recent years, SLGW has expanded more heavily into storage and equipped their transloading facilities with the capability to handle almost any commodity, including hazmat. Similarly, there is optimism that they will receive organic growth resulting from Salt Lake City being one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., as well as the potential benefits from the development of the inland port in Salt Lake City. The intent of the port is to attract international containers coming from the Pacific Coast to its free trade zone and the resulting distribution centers and other logistical infrastructure that would follow.
“SLGW has situated themselves in a great place for future growth and we appreciate their desire to go the extra mile to serve customers like Andeavor” said Merril Lieb, BNSF assistant vice president, Shortline Development.
Mavor also acknowledged SLGW’s appreciation for and the importance of the clear communication channels they have with BNSF, as one of their goals for 2018 and onward is to continue to strengthen relationships with Class I shippers.
“The BNSF shortline development team is a huge advocate for us and is always keeping us up-to-date and letting everyone at BNSF know what we have to offer, and vice versa,” Mavor said. “They make us feel connected to BNSF despite its large size.”
By aligning themselves to accommodate the transload and storage needs of customers, especially the local refineries, SLGW knows that these types of strategic initiatives will position them for success.
“We are a small, lean team that is nimble and ready to handle the growth in Salt Lake City in 2018 and in the years to come,” Mavor said.