On the strength of a scheme to reverse the direction of Enbridge pipeline number 9, allowing it to bring western Canadian crude oil to Montréal, TMSL acquired two large tankers in 2014. The sister ships would carry 350,000 bbls of Alberta crude per trip from Montréal to Lévis on a continuous shuttle basis, year round. Although the ships have a capacity of 500,000 bbls, they would be restricted to the smaller amount because of the depth of water on their intended route.
The pipleine reversal was scheduled to operational in October 2014 but was delayed and is now expected to be running (at redcued capacity initially) in December.
In the meantime Desgagnés bareboat chartered the ships with the original managers running them internationally under the Barbados flag, bringing crude oil to Canada with the occasional Canadian coasting license, to keep the ships in operational condition (and presumably earning some money too.)
As foreign flag tankers they were also able to bring Alberta crude from the pipeline outlet in Nederaland, Texas back to Lévis or Montréal.
Now that the pipeline operation is in sight the first of the ships has been re-registered in Canada. Espada Desgagnés was first registered in Quebec April 28, 2014, but was immediately bareboat chartered to Terra Ltd with Northern Marine Management operating the ship with an international crew. Effective November 24, the ship is now Canadian again, and following crew orientation, will be ready when the oil begins to flow.
Espada Desgagnés on a coasting license heads for Diana Bay in the arctic, where it served as storage depot from July to September 2014. Smaller tankers transferred cargo from the bigger ship to service outports, saving them trips back south to reload.
In the meantime sister ship Laurentia Desgagnés has been granted a coasting license to operate in Canadian waters from December 2015 to January 2016 when its crew will be fully trained and ready. It is expected back under the Canadian flag in January.
Laurentia Desgagnés downbound on the St.Lawrence after delivering foreign crude oil to Montréal. The ship had a coasting license in December 2014 - January 2015 to carry crude oil from Lévis to Montréal - in reverse of its intended operation.
Both ships were built by Brodosplit in Croatia in 2007 and measure 42,810 grt. Espada Desgagnés was built as Stena Poseidon, and measures 74,927 dwt.
Laurentia Desgagnés was built as Neste Polaris and measures 74,927 dwt. On delivery it was renamed Palva under the Greek flag. It was first registered in Canada April 1, 2014 and similarly was immediately bareboat chartered with the same managers.
Desgagnés operates coastal tankers under the Pétro-Nav banner and serve the Valéro refinery delivering refined product around eastern Canada. Most of Valéro's retail operations still use the Ultramar trademark, but the company also sells its product to independents.
The Enbridge number 9 pipeline opened in 1976 from Sarnia, ON to Montréal and originally flowed eastbound. However in 1998 it was reversed to carry cheaper foreign crude westward. From 2013 to the present it has been reversed again in stages and its capacity increased from 240,000 bbl per day to 300,000 bbl per day (by injecting a Drag Reducing Agent) to bring western Canadian oil to supply the two refineries in Québec. Suncor will be fed directly from the pipeline. Until a pipeline is built (if ever) east from Montréal passing Québec City en route to Saint John, Valéro will have to rely on its shuttle tanker service.
Oil from Alberta runs in a network of pipelines across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, crossing into North Dakota south of Winnipeg. It then crosses Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin, then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, passing over the Strait of Mackinac and roughly southbound until it reaches Port Huron where it crosses to Sarnia - a run of about 2,000 miles. It is then another 639 km (397 miles) to Montréal.