Rio Grande Pacific VP Discusses Uinta Basin Railway Project
By Kristin Forbis, Dec 4, 2020
Rio Grande Pacific Senior Vice President Mark Hemphill and 7 County Infrastructure Coalition Executive Director Mike McKee visited the Newstalk KVEL AM 920 studio on Thursday to discuss the progress of the Uinta Basin Railway ahead of the final public meeting. Hemphill explained that once approved, the railroad project would create 2000 construction jobs for two years and once complete, about 200 full time employees. The rail is estimated to haul between 130,000 to 350,000 barrels of oil a day in addition to the oil already being transported to the Salt Lake refinery by truck. The mid amount of 250,000 barrels of oil a day would mean 10 rigs working consistently and about 1,500 permanent oil industry jobs. If it hits that estimate it will equal approximately $2 billion dollars a year in wages, services, and materials, a large portion of which will stay in the local economy. It’s anticipated that a partnership with UBTech could provide training programs in order to train locals for the job opportunities rather than pull people from outside the region. “We would rather have people with roots in the Uintah Basin that want to stay there,” shared Hemphill. The question of where terminals may be located will largely depend on input from oil producers in the Basin. When asked about how national politics could affect this project, Hemphill shared that politics are extremely important for a project like this. He said if there is a Biden administration he hopes they will come in with an open mind realizing that this rail will create economic opportunities. When talking about the trickle down effect and positive economic benefits, McKee explained that a lot of the oil production will take place on private lands but there will be some on federal BLM lands and this means an increase in mineral lease funds. He thanked the community leaders in the Basin and on a state level that continue to strongly support this project and put their names on the line. Hemphill agreed and stated that Rio Grande Pacific considers the values of communities where projects may be located and that the Basin makes it easy to want to commit to the project and see it through.