Irving teams up with firm to buy Portland, Bangor terminals

Posted July 20, 2011, at 9:22 p.m.

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — Irving Oil Ltd. has acquired a terminal and storage facility in Portland, Maine, its first expansion in eight years.

Irving has entered a joint venture with Buckeye Partners L.S. — a firm that owns and operates more than 100 terminals and 4,300 miles of pipeline — to buy the South Portland terminal from ExxonMobil.

Under the terms of the agreement, Irving and Buckeye Partners each have a 50 percent stake in the terminal, which has the capacity to store 725,000 barrels of oil. It’s hooked up to a pipeline that runs to a terminal in Bangor with the capacity to store 14,000 barrels, both of which Buckeye Partners fully purchased in the transaction. All three properties were sold in a deal with ExxonMobil that closed Tuesday.

In May, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ruled Irving’s efforts to acquire all of the ExxonMobil assets on its own was anti-competitive and could inflate gas and diesel prices. Irving then volunteered to restructure its bid for the assets, forging an agreement with Buckeye Partners.

The Portland terminal is now the second in which Irving has a stake, a strategic position in the American Northeast, said Gary Bischof, general manager with the company.

“We look at that as a very important market for our products and we see South Portland in the heart of the market,” Bischof said. “When [opportunities] do arise, particularly in the U.S. Northeast, we’re going to be interested in them.”

Many of Irving’s products leave its East Saint John terminal on ship, headed to terminals like the one purchased Tuesday. There the fuel is loaded into trucks or shipped through a pipeline to another terminal where fuel is then pumped into delivery trucks.

Bischof said Irving’s other Portland terminal is nearing its capacity to fill fuel trucks within the company’s 45-minute target.

“Our customers come and pick up their product with their trucks; they want to come in and out of our terminals quickly and efficiently,” Bischof said. “We think they’ll be happier and better served.”

Irving is confident in the joint venture, Bischof said, in part because of Buckeye Partners’ proven track record.

“We see somebody who’s got lots of experience in this field,” Bischof said. “They bring a wealth of experience and know-how to this joint venture.”

The New England, a double-hulled Irving tanker, made its first 19-hour sail from Saint John to South Portland on Monday with a full cargo of fuel.

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