Swantown Marina Fueling Station

The Port of Olympia is currently evaluating a proposal to add a public marine fueling facility to its current marine operations.  

Boaters Petition Port Commission for a Fuel Dock

The Port has received hundreds of requests from local, regional and visiting citizens to add a marine fueling facility to service Budd Inlet since the last fuel dock in the Olympia area closed in 1999.  In 2008, about 800 local citizens signed a petition and submitted it to the Port Commission asking the Port to construct and operate the long-planned fuel dock in Olympia.  In support of the petition, the citizens pointed to limited dock space, insufficient water depth, long travel distances to fuel, slow pumps, the inability to fuel larger vessels locally, and generally poor environmental conditions at the remaining Thurston County marine fueling facilities.

Swantown Marina was Designed to Include a Fuel Dock

When Swantown Marina was permitted and built in 1983, a marine fueling facility was anticipated and infrastructure was included in the construction for the eventual addition of a fuel dock at the end of the public accessible A-dock.  The location was selected to provide convenient, deep water, all weather location from which to fuel vessels up to 100 feet in length.  To facilitate construction of a fuel dock in the future, the fuel float portion of the dock was widened and strengthened for fueling operations.  Additionally, extra pilings were installed and fuel line raceways were constructed. 

At the time, two other fuel docks were already located within the city limits of Olympia, and two additional fuel docks were located within Thurston County.  Therefore, the Port chose to postpone the final installation of the remaining fuel dock infrastructure until the local demand increased and the marine fueling market could absorb the operation.

Local Boaters Increased - Number of Local Fuel Docks Decreased

Since 1983, the local boating population has increased substantially.  During this period, Swantown Marina constructed a boatyard to meet the growing demands of the boating public, and increased its number of marina slips by nearly 30%.  However, the planned fuel dock project was never completed.  

In addition, over the last 30 years, the two Olympia downtown marine fueling docks ceased operations, with the second one closing in 1999.  Since that time, the number of available fuel docks in Thurston County is two, leaving the hub of Thurston County’s boating activities, Budd Inlet, without a marine fueling facility.

Project Fits with Port Goals and Strategy

This project aligns with the Port’s Vision 2025 Strategic Plan under Target #4, “Develop the Swantown District.” The marina fuel dock project is specifically listed under this target as an action item to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan.

Port Engages in Marine Fueling Station Feasibility Study

In response to the petition, the Port engaged an experienced marine consultant to complete a Marine Fueling Station Feasibility Study.  KPFF Consulting Engineers began the Feasibility Study in April 2012 and published the final Feasibility Study in December 2012.  In the interim, staff presented an update on the project to the Commission at their public meeting on August 13, 2012.  The Feasibility Study evaluated potential fuel dock locations at four different Port-owned sites including the Port Plaza, Swantown Boatworks, NorthPoint, and Swantown Marina.  Two locations were eliminated from consideration due to significant environmental and permitting issues, so the Study focused on evaluating the NorthPoint and Swantown Marina locations.  The most feasible location identified for developing a marine fueling facility is the Swantown Marina A-dock site.  As part of the feasibility evaluations, the consultants presented their findings to the community at three well-attended evening public meetings. 

View the full Marine Fueling Station Feasibility Study - December 2012

Commission Approves Design, Permitting and Requests Market Study

Based on the Feasibility Study, Financial Analysis and strong community support, in 2013 the Port Commission approved $2,250,000 in the 2014 Capital Investment Plan and commissioned a marine engineering firm to design the fueling facility and secure the necessary permits for the project. 

In 2014, responding to citizens’ requests for an independent fuel volume study, the Commission asked for research about potential fuel sales volumes.  The Port retained Washington State University’s Social and Economic Science Research Center to complete a Fuel Dock Survey to assist in assessing the viability of constructing and operating a marine fueling station at Swantown.  

Additionally, the Port also reached out to operators of Thurston County marine fueling stations, and other fuel suppliers, to assess their potential interest in establishing a public/private partnership with the Port for development of a fuel dock.  Unfortunately, there was no interest from private industry in establishing such a relationship.

Commission Seeks Community Input Regarding Fuel Dock 

In 2012, the Commission directed the Port of Olympia Citizens Advisory Committee to research and prepare a Port of Olympia Fuel Dock Public Participation Plan.  A key recommendation of the Plan was to hold well-promoted public meetings conducted by an external facilitator. The purpose of the public meetings was to present factual information about the proposed fuel dock to the community and to receive public input on the fuel dock proposal. 

View the full copy of the Fuel Dock Public Participation Plan - July 2012

Over the course of this project, there have been a significant number of public events, meetings, and briefings where the proposed fuel dock was presented and discussed.  These meetings include the following:

 2011  February 24th Commission Study Session
   April 19th Port / Olympia Downtown Association
 2012  February 1st Port Advisory Committee
   August 13th Commission Meeting 
   December 20th Commission Study Session
 2013  February 4th Public Open House
   May 8th Port / Olympia Downtown Association
   June 24th  Commission Meeting
   September 19th Commission Study Session
   October 22nd Public Open House
   November 12th Commission Meeting
 2014  February 24th Commission Meeting
 2015  April 8th Public Open House
   June 18th Port / Olympia Downtown Association
 2016  January 11th Commission Meeting
   June 7th Public Open House
   June 9th Port / Olympia Downtown Association
   June 13th Commission Meeting

Four major public open houses shown occurred during the evenings of February 4, 2013, October 22, 2013,  April 8, 2015 and June 7th, 2016. They were widely promoted and advertised, and more than 100 people attended each meeting.  The first meeting included a presentation on the initial Feasibility Study by KPFF Consulting Engineers.  The second meeting included an update to the Feasibility Study, presented by the consultant, and a Project Financial Analysis presented by the Port Staff.  The third meeting presented an update on the entire project status as well as a summary of the Market Study conducted by Washington State University.  The fourth meeting updated the overall project status and provided information on additional financial evaluations and facility operations.  The meeting attendees overwhelmingly supported the Port’s construction and operation of a fuel dock facility at Swantown Marina. 

The Commission has also received over 100 written comments which overwhelmingly support the Port’s construction of a fuel dock at Swantown Marina.

Results of the Fuel Dock Survey and Market Study

In 2014, the Social and Research Science Center at Washington State University (WSU) completed a market study for the Port to gauge market interest and anticipated volumes of fuel that would likely be sold at a new fueling facility if one were constructed at Swantown Marina.  The survey requested information from owners of boats that are moored at six Olympia area marinas.  It is worth noting that the study considered only those sales to the in-water vessels that homeport in the downtown Olympia area.  As a result, market demand projections do not include potential sales to other fuel users, including the boats launched at the Swantown Launch Ramp, visiting boaters, boats located at county marinas outside downtown, or commercial fuel sales.

Key conclusions from the study are as follows:.
WSU estimated annual fuel usage for vessels that homeport in Olympia is approximately 396,000.
WSU estimated annual fuel sales at Swantown are estimated at 396,000 gallons.
Approximately 1/3 of fuel sales are for gasoline and 2/3 is diesel.
Boston Harbor Marina services half of the downtown Olympia vessel’s fuel demand.  
Zittel’s Marina services approximately 3% of the downtown Olympia vessel’s fuel demand.
Approximately 45% of the Olympia fuel users purchase fuel outside Thurston County or carry fuel jugs to boats in order to fuel.
90% of survey respondents said they would purchase fuel at Swantown if a fueling facility was available. 

View additional information on the Fuel Dock Survey:
Project Costs
The total project is estimated to cost between $2,000,000 and $2,500,000, of which up to $450,000 may be grant funded.  These costs include administrative, planning, design, permitting, and construction costs.

Financial Impacts

As a Port-owned and operated fuel dock, the Port expects that fuel sales revenue to local boaters will result in a facility that may pay for itself in approximately 10 years.  While commercial fuel sales were not included in the financial analysis, the fuel dock would be equipped to handle commercial vessels, making it sustainable for commercial vessel operators to homeport in Olympia.

In addition to benefiting tourism and revenues associated with the boating community discussed above, the Port expects that the fuel dock’s ability to handle commercial vessels may create additional local jobs.


As a result of the research and analysis by professional consultants, the Port has found:
  1. There is a strong demand for a marine fuel dock in Budd Inlet.
  2. The Port's fuel dock project is financially viable and will pay for itself.
  3. The Port's fuel dock will meet the highest level of safety and environmental standards.

Next Steps – Permitting

The Port will continue with the permitting and environmental review process which is anticipated to be complete by June 2016.  The following major federal and state agencies will be among those reviewing and/or issuing permits for the project:
US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
US Fish and Wildlife (USFW)
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP)
Washington Department of Ecology (DOE)
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW)
Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
City of Olympia

Next Steps – Design / Construction

Currently, the Port’s consultant is developing the Final Design and Construction Documents for the proposed marine fueling facility. Once the documents are complete, the Port Commission will determine whether or not to proceed with construction of the facilities. This decision is expected in the late summer of 2016.

Comment on the Project

The Port Commission appreciates your comments and thoughts about the Marine Fueling Station project. All comments received here are provided for review to the Port Commission.
Comment on the Swantown Marina Fueling Station Project