City councillor reacts to refinery proposal

City councillor Bruce Bidgood says there are still concerns with transporting raw bitumen to Kitimat from Alberta

  • Aug. 17, 2012 5:00 a.m.

David Black, the owner and president of Black Press which owns newspapers across B.C. including the Terrace Standard, announced his intentions to build a “state-of-the-art” $13 billion dollar oil refinery near Kitimat to process crude from the proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline.

He says the refinery’s construction would reduce environmental risks because tankers would be shipping refined fuels like gasoline off the northwest coast instead of heavy Alberta crude.

He hopes to begin construction on the refinery, which would be located 25 kilometres north of Kitimat and 25 kilometres south of Terrace in 2014, with construction concluding in 2016. He says the project would create roughly 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. More background information on the proposed project can be found here.

Black met with Terrace City Council on July 24 to outline his proposal, according to city councillor Bruce Bidgood.

The group met for “a little over an hour”, said Bidgood. The discussion was in the same vain as the announcement made today during a press conference in Vancouver.

The reaction from council was one of “shock and cautious optimism” said Bidgood, noting the economic possibilities for Terrace that would come with a project of this size.

“Many people would love to have a job here in Terrace,” he said.

“It’s my understanding that shipping refined oil products is much more safe that shipping bitumen,” he said. “It mitigates some of the marine risk.”

But the prospect of a refinery still doesn’t address concerns with regards to safely transporting bitumen from Alberta to the refinery site, he said.

“That discussion has to be held by Enbridge,” he said. “The question is now put to Enbridge, ‘what do you guys have to do to make us feel comfortable that you can deliver bitumen safely from Alberta?”

Terrace City Council is officially opposed to the pipeline, a decision arrived at earlier this year after council took back its neutral stance.

“Until we are convinced [bitumen can travel safely from Alberta], I don’t think council would change its position,” he said.

He says this development changes the discussion.

“The vast majority of people here are trying to weigh the checks and balances,” he said.

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