A Massachusetts-based natural gas supply company has signed a lease to use property at the Satsop Business Park as a hub for its market in Western Washington.
The Port of Grays Harbor Board of Commissioners last week welcomed Xpress Natural Gas as its newest tenant at the business park near Elma, unanimously approving the company’s lease. Xpress will use the gas pipeline installed at the business park and owned by Williams Gas Pipeline Co.
The move gets the company closer to client Port Townsend Paper Co., and would likely allow for more expansion into the Olympic Peninsula, said Matt Smith, Xpress Natural Gas executive vice president of sales and marketing. Smith said he couldn’t name any other potential clients at this time.
In a presentation to Port officials, Smith explained that Xpress works mainly as a logistics company, bringing natural gas to clients as often as they need it. Transporting primarily compressed natural gas, Xpress uses trucks, attached to specialized trailers with the gas inside, to transport the gas to clients.
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Once there, drivers leave the trailers on the property, attached to a gas terminal, and swap the trailers out as the gas is needed before they run empty. Some clients, Smith said, need fresh truckloads of fuel 12 times a day during the busiest times of the year.
The storage tanks inside the trailers are the only place the gas is stored, he said, adding that the company removes the gas from the pipeline at the business park only as it’s needed.
With the transportation of crude oil by rail being debated in the region, Smith addressed the trucks’ volatility, saying they will not combust. The tubes inside each truck holding the gas contain pure methane, he said, adding that the gas cannot combust unless it’s exposed to oxygen in large quantities. The truck manufacturers have proven that would rarely happen, he said.
“They’re DOT-certified for highway use, which means they’ve been shown to roll over at 60 miles an hour and not breach,” he said. “They’ve been shot by a .60-caliber bullet — they don’t rupture, they don’t split and they don’t explode.”
Because the trucks contain gas, spills are not an issue, Smith added. Although the company rarely uses liquid natural gas, he said, even in that form, it would evaporate without much impact to the environment.
Smith said the company’s new location at Satsop could end up employing between 15 and 25 people, including employees to monitor the terminal and the truck drivers needed to transport the product.
The company also will offer training for first responders to respond to natural gas-related incidents, Smith said.
The Port’s annual revenue from the lease will be about $38,000, said Alissa Shay, Satsop Business Park’s manager of business development.