Skeena MLA Austin says refinery proposal is “just an idea”

NDP MLA for Skeena Robin Austin says refinery proposal fundamentally doesn't change anything about the pipeline proposal.

In light of media mogul David’s Black’s announcement that he has submitted a proposal to build an oil refinery in Kitimat, B.C. NDP MLA for Skeena Robin Austin said it fundamentally doesn’t change anything about the pipeline proposal.

“Whether it’s a refinery or terminal, we’ve still got the danger of transporting diluted bitumen oil … all the way from Alberta to here that poses all kinds of risks,” he said.

The B.C. NDP released a press release shortly after the announcement to say: “It doesn’t change our position on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.”

Austin said that the lack of support from industry shows that, at this point, the refinery proposal isn’t something substantive.

“Something that costs $13 billion requires, I would imagine, a large industry partner to come in with expertise and the kinds of capital necessary to build something like this and that wasn’t there,” he continued.

“I don’t know how he can be suggesting building a refinery to take Enbridge Gateway product when Enbridge isn’t even at the table,” said Austin.

During the press conference this morning, Black said, “I wasn’t able to convince them (Enbridge) that they should be investing in a refinery yet, but I’m going to keep at them.”

He went on to say that even without Enbridge’s support, he will attempt to finance the refinery in other ways.

“The numbers all pan out. I’ve talked to investment bankers in New York and Toronto and they said ‘David, honest to God, with the presentation you’re giving us we could raise 13 billion (dollars) in a week.’”he said.

Austin also said that the provincial government’s absence could be seen as a lack of support. “If (Premier Clark) was briefed about this and thought it was a good thing, why wasn’t the government there endorsing this? They weren’t.”

For his part, Black admitted that he hasn’t received support or opposition from the province. “But I have to believe it matches their ambitions with all the jobs and money for the province,” he said.

Black’s company, Kitimat Clean Ltd. Posted launched a website in time with this morning’s announcement.

“In my view we should not proceed with the pipeline (or the refinery) unless there is confidence that any pipeline leakage will be immaterial,” are the words of Black on the company’s website.

“And in that regard I totally agree with him,” was Austin’s reply.

“My contention is that there’s no indication that Enbridge can do this safely, so therefore this is not something that I would endorse in any way,” said Austin.

In an interview prior to Black’s announcement, B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix said that natural gas is less of an issue. But, “if you listen to people up and down the coast what you find is people don’t want increased tanker traffic. The concern is both.”