Northwest B.C. residents probed on oil refinery acceptance

Poll undertaken in Terrace and Kitimat earlier this week

  • Thu Sep 3rd, 2015 6:00am
  • News

SOMEBODY wants to know what local residents think of an oil refinery and of the prospects of exporting refined products.

Telephone polling to that effect took place here and in Kitimat Aug. 31, says the company hired to do the work.

“It was done in Terrace and Kitimat on the 31st, from the late afternoon to the early evening,” said Mike Witherly from Rushbrooke Communications which is based in Vancouver.

Withlerly would not disclose who hired Rushbrooke or the reason behind the polling or why it was confined to the Terrace-Kitimat area.

But he did say the questions concerned the acceptance of an oil refinery and of the export of refined fuels instead of raw crude oil.

Other questions centered around job creation and the impact a refinery would have on the economy.

The questions were posed by a recorded voice, asking the person who answered the phone to register their range of agreement of disagreement by using a number button on their phone.

“They’re good in the sense you can reach a lot of people,” said Witherly of the automated system known as interactive voice response.

The fewer and more succinct the questions are, the more answers are received, he said.

Of the two oil refineries being contemplated for the area, one is at Kitimat and the other near Prince Rupert.

Kitimat Clean Energy president David Black, who also owns Black Press, the owner of The Terrace Standard and other northwestern B.C. newspapers, said he did not commission the poll.

Black instead pointed to previous poll results posted on the Kitimat Clean website.

Those polls, now several years old, indicate the “majority of B.C. residents agree that BC and Canada should add value to natural resources before exporting (86%), that it is better to refine bitumen within B.C. rather than offshore (76%), and agree with diversifying exports to find markets beyond the United States for Canada’s petroleum products (70%).”

Comments from Pacific Future Energy, the Vancouver-based company with plans for a refinery near Prince Rupert, were not immediately available.

Both projects would export refined oil products to Asian customers and both would cost billions as well as need pipelines carrying crude oil from Alberta.