Altex Energy was created in 2005 to provide access to new markets for Canadian heavy oil producers of a via heavy oil/bitumen pipeline from Ft McMurray to a location near Port Arthur, Texas. The Altex name comes from the Alberta-Texas plan.
Altex undertook a significant bitumen testing effort at the University of Calgary Shulich School of Engineering. A procedure to reduce the diluent was ultimately developed and several patents were filed for a new technology pipeline.
During these pipeline discussions with shippers and research, it became obvious to Altex that three issues existed: 1) developing economy of scale, 2) lack of pure bitumen production and 3) working with parties that did not have sufficient credit to underwrite a major investment.
The solution was to develop a transportation system that can solve the production risk, scale and credit issue by railing bitumen to virtually any market within North America. Rail had even better capabilities than the new technology pipeline to reduce the "diluent penalty". Moreover rail could be competitive with new dilbit (diluent bitumen) pipelines. Hence building the pipeline was abandoned in favour of rail.
Canadian National ("CN") was the carrier that met all these requirements; it owns the track up to Ft McMurray and the Peace River areas, and the delivery systems to eastern Canada, Chicago, Canada's West Coast and the US Gulf Coast. Altex then approached CN in the early part of 2008 to propose such a transport system.
Altex and CN joined forces in 2008 in recognition of the synergies between our companies. Our partnership increases the value of the expertise and strengths we both bring to this solution. Our common goal is to ensure a seamless interconnectivity along the bitumen supply chain.
Together we spent 3 years developing rail as an alternative to pipelines. Through many joint presentations and conferences and though articles in the press many in the oil industry began to realize the value of our rail system approach and the true cost of shipping dilbit by pipeline.
We moved our first railcars in the fall of 2010 at CN's Yard in Lloydminster, AB.
The market demand grew from these few "test" shipments from Lloydminster. The Altex system expanded with the addition of Lashburn, SK in 2011. This terminal was the first to add tanks to the process allowing
increased turn-around for truckers. Originally designed to move 6 cars per day the facility expanded to 32 - 1,000bbl tanks and track storage for in excess of 100 cars.
Altex continued to develop the system approach so that to shippers, Altex would look like a traditional pipeline. Altex manages all rail and truck logistics, safety, royalty and customs reporting allowing shippers to concentrate on marketing their oil.
Altex had an overwhelming response to our system approach. We developed stringent health and safety systems that pass not only the demanding regulatory requirements but those of the communities in which we operate.
In June 2012, Southern Pacific chose Altex to build a terminal in Ft. McMurray (Lynton) to transport their oil to Natchez, MS.
Wainwright, AB came on board and added to Altex's growing number of terminals.
In the fall of 2013, Falher, AB became the Altex's first terminal in the Peace River area.
In the fall of 2014, Altex's commissioned the new Lashburn
facility with storage space for over 250 railcars on site. Capable of loading over 60 railcars per day.
Lashburn is expanding to unit train capacity with more tanks, railcar storage, and truck rail car loading spots. Claysmore (Vermilion) is permitted and expected to break ground on a full unit train pipe connected design.
Altex is looking to expand and diversify it's terminal offerings in the Peace River and north-eastern BC regions with NGLs, frac sand, and pipe yards.