Alberta’s oil refinery request prompts renewed interest in Kitimat plan

Publisher David Black pitches Rachel Notley on B.C. coast option

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s invitation for proposals to build new refinery capacity has renewed interest in a new-generation oil refinery proposed for the Kitimat area.

Black Press publisher David Black wrote to Notley Monday to pitch his Kitimat Clean project, arguing that only a coastal refinery is a viable way to add to the province’s capacity to export refined fuels.

“Unfortunately the refinery cannot be located inland,” wrote Black, who has developed a refinery design that could be supplied with heavy crude by rail or pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands. “The capital cost to build a large, brand-new refinery inland is so high that it is never economically viable. That is why all major export refineries in the world are located on an ocean coast.”

LNG Canada’s natural gas export facility at Kitimat plans to use processing modules built and shipped from Asia, and any new refinery in B.C. would be expected to use the same approach.

Notley called for “expressions of interest” last week for new refining capacity, as the Alberta oil industry struggles with lack of pipeline capacity and a depressed price for its oil exports in the only available export market, the U.S.

Alberta already has four heavy oil upgraders and four refineries, including the Sturgeon Refinery near Edmonton, the first to be built in the province in more than 30 years.

RELATED: Alberta buying its own rail cars to move crude oil

RELATED: Ottawa’s B.C. coast oil tanker ban reviewed by Senate

With the Northern Gateway and Energy East oil pipelines cancelled and Trans Mountain’s expansion project to Burnaby held up by a court decision, Notley has searched for alternatives including rail and new refining to break out of the political landlock that has surrounded the Alberta oil sands.

With the cancellation of the Northern Gateway project and the federal government poised to pass more restrictions on environmental assessment of energy projects, the focus has shifted to rail transport of crude oil. In addition to Notley’s declared intention to buy more conventional oil tanker rail cars, transporting bitumen in solid form called “neatbit” has been explored to reduce the risk of spills on land.

Black’s Kitimat refinery plan attracted a copycat bid from Pacific Future Energy, whose directors include former Canadian trade minister Stockwell Day and former Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo.

Pacific Future has borrowed Kitimat Clean’s approach of using a new oil refining technique that avoids production of petroleum coke, reducing the greenhouse gas impact compared to conventional heavy oil refining.

Backers of another Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline proposal, Eagle Spirit Energy, were in Ottawa last week to call for the Trudeau government to cancel its pending legislation that would ban crude oil tankers from docking on B.C.’s North Coast, effectively blocking crude exports to Asia.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturekitimat

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Three young Sylvan Lake residents are asking for lights to be added to the walking trail system to make them safer and less scary at night. Photo by @workinonmyfitness72
Young Sylvan Lake residents ask for lights to be added to walking trails

Three young Sylvan Lake residents appeared before Council recently to present their ask

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Town of Sylvan Lake recieves funding to help with COVID-19 related revenue losses

Minister Devin Dreeshen says the funding will help the Town pay staff and provide services

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo by The Associated Press)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read