B.C. oil refinery project touted in Kelowna

The man behind a proposal to build $36 billion refinery, pipeline and tanker fleet in Kitimat, explains his plan to the chamber of commerce.

Newspaper owner and would-be oilman David Black was in Kelowna Tuesday to explain his plan for an oil refinery near Kitimat

B.C. media mogul David Black says his $36 billion oil refinery proposal for Kitimat not only makes sense financially and environmentally, it’ll also benefit the entire province in several ways.

Black, who is the man behind the ambitious Kitimat Clean heavy oil refinery project, complete with its own pipeline to bring diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands for refining and its own fleet of tankers to take refined oil products to markets in China, was in Kelowna Tuesday to speak at a chamber of commerce lunch.

He said the the project will create 3,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs in the Kitimat area alone and thousands more across the province in support industries, spawn other, smaller refining operations near the refinery, generate billions of dollars tax in revenue for every level of government and be far more environmentally friendly for B.C.’s coast than the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipleline.

Northern Gateway, currently awaiting federal approval, would also pipe diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands across northern B.C. to Kitimat. From there Enbridge would load it onto tankers and ship it to China. But Black says the heavy oil should be refined in Canada.

He said he warned Albertan oil executives early on that a majority of people of B.C. would not support Northern Gateway — a prediction that has turned out to be true — and added unlike the Northern Gateway his proposal would mean shipping environmentally safer refined oil products instead. In the even of a tanker accident and spill, they would not cause the potential environmental devastation spilling diluted bitumen would cause.

“If this stuff (diluted bitumen) is spilled at sea, it’s going to be bad,” said Black. “This is one of the most dangerous things we could be shipping.”

Black, a sailer, said he has seen firsthand the beauty of B.C.’s coast and that was why he came up with the idea for a refinery in B.C. But he said oil companies that operate in this country were not interested in building one. So he took on the task.

With financing from China—a customer Black describes as desperate for Canadian oil and oil products—Black said what he now needs is for the federal government to provide $10 billion in guarantees to show China Canada has “some skin in the game.”

He added he has been told by politicians that should not be a problem.

As for public support for his project, Black said while two-thirds of British Columbians are against a pipeline, when you attach a refinery to a pipeline proposal, two-thirds support it.

And while it does not talk about it much, the province is also a huge supporter of his plan, he said.

Speaking of the province, Black said his refinery proposal may be better for B.C. than the LNG “industry” currently being touted by Premier Christy Clark as B.C’s financial saviour in years to come.

Black said while he hopes to see LNG plants open in B.C., he is doubtful, particularly about two proposed for the Kitimat area.

Calling KNG “a bet on the price of natural gas,” the owner of a newspaper empire that includes the Capital News and more than 60 other community newspapers in B.C. said this province is coming late to the party. Other countries are already producing LNG or are further ahead in planning than B.C.

“It’ll be great for us if we can do it but when it comes to LNG, I’m from Missouri,” said Black, alluding to the U.S. state nicknamed the “show-me” state because of a history of skepticism among its residents.




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