British Columbia

B.C. publisher proposes $13B crude refinery near Kitimat

B.C. publishing mogul David Black has plans to build a $13-billion plant near Kitimat to refine crude oil from Enbridge's proposed pipeline.
Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on Jan. 10, 2012. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A prominent B.C. businessman is proposing to build an oil refinery near Kitimat to refine crude oil shipped from the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

David Black, owner of Black Press Group Ltd., said his other company, Kitimat Clean Ltd., is submitting an environmental assessment application for approval to build the plant.

It's a project worth $13 billion, and Black said the refinery will create 3,000 full-time jobs and 6,000 temporary jobs during the construction phase.

In a written statement published online, Black said the refinery is being designed specifically for processing Alberta oilsands heavy crude oil, and should have the capacity to process the entire output of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Black said the plant would process up to 550,000 barrels per day of dilbit — condensate diluent and Alberta oilsands bitumen — and would return the separated diluent to the Edmonton area through a proposed secondary pipeline.

He said the plant would produce 240,000 barrels of diesel, 100,000 barrels of gasoline and 50,000 of kerosene, or jet fuel, per day.

The refinery is being planned on a 3,000 hectare parcel of Crown land near DuBose, B.C., that is zoned for industrial use, he said.

The DuBose site is 25 kilometres north of Kitimat, 25 kilometres south of Terrace, and would be approximately 40 kilometres near a pipeline from a planned Enbridge marine terminal on the Douglas Channel.

Black said construction could begin as early as 2014.

Political reaction

Energy Minister Rich Coleman said he looks forward to details of the proposal.

"Construction of a new oil refinery near Kitimat... has the potential to create thousands of jobs to support British Columbian families," he said in a statement.

"Like all major projects, this would have to successfully complete an environmental review. We look forward to learning more details about the proposal."

NDP energy critic John Horgan said he doesn't think the project is feasible.

"The Chinese have not expressed any desire to buy refined crude, they want the raw bitumen," Horgan said.

"That's why Enbridge is so aggressively pursuing their proposal. The NDP opposes it today, we'll oppose it tomorrow despite Mr. Black's initiative."

Horgan says he can't support an increase in oil tankers on the coast whether they're carrying raw or refined crude oil.

The view is shared by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

"I can't imagine anything worse leaking from a tanker than bitumen crude mixed with diluent but that doesn't mean a super tanker full of processed crude is a safe or acceptable alternative for British Columbians," said May.

No matter how you move the oil, May says the Green Party doesn't support a pipeline moving crude oil across ecologically sensitive northern B.C.

With files from the CBC’s Stephen Smart