David Black.

Approvals next for proposed Kitimat oil refinery

David Black has sketched out a scenario to obtain environmental and other approvals within three years for his proposed oil refinery

The proponent of a plan to spend $22 billion to construct an oil refinery north of Kitimat along with associated works has sketched out a scenario to obtain environmental and other approvals within three years.

Speaking late last week, Kitimat Clean Ltd. president David Black said he can start working on the finer details of the project now that a 129-page comprehensive description of the project has been filed with federal and provincial regulators.

The filing on March 31 contains details on the refinery itself, which would be located on approximately 1,000 hectares of mostly Crown land 13 kilometres north of Kitimat, as well as on associated works such as rail spurs, a tank farm, a marine export terminal on the Douglas Channel near Kitimat, and on a 23-kilometre long corridor containing three pipelines to carry refined fuels from the refinery to the terminal for tanker export overseas. The raw product, Alberta oil sands bitumen, would be brought by rail to the refinery and turned into diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and some low-sulphur diesel.

Filing of the project description, which was produced by the firm of Hatch Ltd., now places in motion a series of events including public comment periods, contract signings and permit applications and approvals, said Black.

“Hatch really put its best people on this,” said Black of the project description document.

“I’m sure it’s going to be well accepted by both governments.”

Topping Black’s list is agreements with First Nations, primarily the Haisla of Kitamaat Village, on whose traditional territory the refinery would be located.

“There are some others, there are overlaps, but the Haisla are the main one,” he said.

“I think that the one thing we’ve learned in B.C. is that you can really do nothing unless you have First Nations [on board],” Black added. He said he’s had several sessions with the Haisla so far.

Gaining overall aboriginal approvals would include signing contracts for business and other economic opportunities arising from the project’s construction and operations.

While that kind of work is going on, Black said engineers will be advancing on the very detailed engineering work needed to establish exact project costs.

“That should take about two to two and a half years,” he estimated.

Black’s been selling the refinery project, officially introduced in 2012, as a nation-building exercise to add value to a raw resource rather than simply having bitumen exported for processing overseas.

The study forecasts taxation revenues of up to $1 billion a year for various levels of government and the creation of 1,250 direct jobs, 1,250 contract jobs and thousands of indirect ones through the region.

A five-year construction window is forecast with as many as 7,000 workers needed as well as a large camp facility located at the refinery location.

At full capacity the refinery would process upwards of 400,000 barrels a day of bitumen, producing diesel, jet fuel and gasoline to be delivered to the marine export terminal via pipeline.

The fuels would be pumped aboard large tankers with one scheduled to leave the marine export terminal every four days for the trip to Asia.

When compared to existing refineries, this one, if constructed, would rank among the largest in the world.

To date Black has been the sole investor of the project and has yet to attract large multi-national energy companies who favour their own refineries elsewhere.

Black, the owner of Black Press, the newspaper company which owns the Northern View and other northwestern B.C. newspapers, says he has spent millions of his own money so far, but declined to provide a figure.