THE sole proponent of a plan to build an oil refinery near Kitimat says he’s stopping a federal environmental review until he can raise the money to pay for its full cost.
Kitimat Clean president David Black says he can raise half of the estimated $10 million it will take for a review through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) but he needs to find investors to come up with the rest.
That can only happen provided he gets Haisla Nation approval for the refinery because it’s located on Haisla traditional territory.
“Nowadays in B.C. you can’t go ahead without First Nations approval,” said Black.
Having Haisla approval would then give investors the confidence to lend him the money, he said.
The CEAA in September said comments it received about the potential environmental impacts of the project were enough to put the project before a three-person panel.
That’s something Black said could take more than a year and be expensive for him considering that project proponents have to pay the cost of a review.
“So I’m hopeful I can get the Haisla on board,” Black said last week. “I’d like to get a preliminary agreement signed by Christmas.”
Had the CEAA not ordered a panel review, Black said he would still need to spend about $5 million on having the project clear any environmental hoops.
Black is promoting Kitimat Clean, valued at $18 billion, as a project which would use a specific refining technology to vastly reduce the kind of C02 emissions common at more traditional refineries.
Refining crude in Canada would not only provide jobs and boost the regional and national economy but exporting refined products is more environmentally sound than sending crude tankers overseas, he added.
Black would also avoid building a crude-carrying pipeline from Alberta to the refinery site by instead bringing the product in by rail, requiring a large yard within the refinery compound to unload the cars and prepare them for the return journey.
Up to six trains a day would be needed to fuel the refinery.
A pipeline would, however be needed from the refinery to the Douglas Channel so that refined products could fill up waiting tankers.
In full operation, Kitimat Clean would process up to 400,000 of crude oil a day, turning out diesel, jet fuel and gasoline.
Black’s been promoting his project since 2012 and although it figured in the BC Liberals platform in the 2013 provincial election, he’s been unable so far to secure financial backers.
In the meantime, a second proposed oil refinery which would be located 32 km from Kitimat has also been referred to a three-person review panel by the CEAA.
The panel’s members have not yet been chosen for the Pacific Future Energy Corporation project which is also billing itself as a “green” refinery and which would process up to 200,000 barrels of crude a day.
Like the Kitimat Clean proposal, crude would be shipped by rail to the refinery site.
But Pacific Future has not yet indicated how its refined products will be exported, something that was brought up when the CEAA asked for public comment leading to its decision to put the project to a panel review.
It has, however, suggested two pipelines would be built north to an export terminal on the Portland Canal.
Speaking last week, project official Don McLaughlin said Pacific Future is looking forward to working with the review panel.
But as to whether Pacific Future has the money to finance the review panel’s costs, McLaughlin said that the company doesn’t discuss its finances.
The chairman of Pacific Future Energy is Samer Salameh, who at one time managed the business interests of Carlos Slim from Mexico who is regarded as one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Also in its management ranks is Mark Marissen a political consultant and former husband to Premier Christy Clark.
Finally, the management team includes Stockwell Day, a former federal minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
David Black is also the chairman of Black Press, the owner of The Terrace Standard and other newspapers in northwestern B.C. and the interior.