Spokeswoman Theresa Wagner says the Port of Vancouver has been negotiating with Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies since late last year.
The companies want to bring the oil in by train from the Bakken fields of North Dakota. Wagner said the companies' intent is to start moving oil by 2014.
The Port of Vancouver has been expanding its rail system to handle longer freight trains and attract more business. Dan Riley, a vice president with Tesoro, said the Port of Vancouver is in a unique position.
"In fact, the Port of Vancouver has the most direct rail access to the Bakken shale formation of any seaport in the United States," Riley said.
Riley said building the new oil facility could temporarily employ 250 people. Operating it would bring 50 to 80 permanent jobs to the port.
The oil-handling venture would store crude in new tanks at the port and then load it onto vessels for transport to a refinery in Anacortes, Washington, and to similar facilities in California and Alaska, Wagner says.
Washington's Port of Grays Harbor also is considering leasing property for handling bulk oil from North Dakota.
Trains already carry Bakken oil through the Northwest to facilities in Washington. They have been taking it to refineries in Anacortes, Tacoma and Cherry Point north of Bellingham.