B.C. mogul hopes for Kitimat refinery deal in the next month
Published Sunday, March 17, 2013 8:13AM EDT
British Columbia billionaire David Black says he’s given himself one month to finalize an ambitious $25-billion plan to build a gas refinery in Kitimat, B.C.
Black has been building a high-profile case for a refinery in B.C.’s north for months, and says his project is the safest way to for Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project to proceed.
The Kitimat project could spur job growth and pour millions into the economy, but would be safer for the environment, Black says. In the event of a tanker spill in the Haida Gwaii waters, refined fuel such as gasoline is easier to clean up than oilsands bitumen.
In an interview on CTV’s Question Period Sunday, Black said he is in the process of obtaining memos of understanding from potential investors.
“They’re going to loan us the money to build a refinery and the pipeline if necessary,” he told CTV QP host Kevin Newman.
The refinery, which would be the largest private development in the province’s history, would be built 25 kilometres north of Kitimat and process 550,000 barrels a day of Alberta bitumen.
The Northern Gateway project has long been a major cause for concern for environmentalists and First Nations, but Black said his refinery would sidestep environmental risk factors.
“We wouldn’t be shipping bitumen in the tankers and that’s the real risk,” Black said.
Though First Nations are unsupportive of the Northern Gateway project, Black said they aren’t necessarily opposed to pipelines.
“They’ve certainly approved gas pipelines already and as long as they can be convinced that the oil is safe there should be no reason not to proceed with an oil pipeline,” he said.
Current pipeline technology, Black said, is a lot safer, and drilling would occur well below ground, preserving rivers, streams and other untouched areas.
“We only have one pipeline in B.C., it’s the trans-mountain one, it’s been in the ground for 60 years, it’s really old technology,” he said. “Today would be much safer and that one has never had an environmental issue.”
In addition, Kitimat Clean would be the first refinery in the world to employ a new technology patented by Calgary’s Expander Energy. The system would use a gasification process rather than coking, and as a result, cut greenhouse emissions in half from seven million tonnes of CO2 annually to about 3.5 million tonnes.
The projected capital cost of the refinery is $16 billion. The Kitimat Clean project also includes a $6-billion oil pipeline and a $2-billion gas pipeline. Black has said the plan may also include its own ocean-going tanker at an estimated cost of $1 billion.
Black also indicated he would be willing to share ownership of the refinery with First Nations.
“I’ve talked to a number of Indian leaders and I think I have a proposal that will work for them,” he said.
Black said he is confident his plan will survive British Columbia’s scheduled May election, and possibly, a new government, as embattled BC Liberal leader Christy Clark fights to keep her party in power.
“There is so much in this for B.C., it would be hard to see any government backing away from it,” Black said.
Black, who made his fortune in newspapers, claims the project would generate 3,000 “permanent, direct” jobs in B.C., plus hundreds of millions for the province’s treasury.
See the full interview on CTV Question Period, 11 a.m. ET. Click here for airtimes in other regions.