Black wants to submit for environmental review of refinery this fall

David Black is hoping to submit for an environmental review of his proposed oil refinery sometime this fall.

David Black hopes to submit an environmental review for his proposed Kitimat Clean refinery this fall.

His plans continue to move ahead as other players in B.C. and Alberta have their eyes on refineries of their own.

In the Prince Rupert area, Eagle Spirit Energy presented a proposal to the Lax Kw’alaams community of their idea for an oil refinery at an area called Grassy Point.

For Black, the idea of competition on the north coast doesn’t sway him, and he remains solid that Kitimat is the right place for him.

“It might work,” said Black, but added, “I don’t see a big advantage over the Kitimat site. You need a lot of land to put in a refinery. There’s a big advantage to have railway, hydro, highway and all the infrastructure there. We have that in the Kitimat Valley. It’s not yet in that Grassy Point area.”

That said, he did admit that tankers leaving the Grassy Point area would have the marine advantage, given Kitimat’s distinction as an “in-land” coast.

But even if that proposal sees light, he won’t see it cramping his style. He said that the capacity for his refinery could be doubled and it’d still see demand, so a second refinery near Lax Kw’alaams would just fill further need that Kitimat Clean couldn’t fill.

Black’s proposed refinery would process 550,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen from Alberta.

Meanwhile he plans to submit for an environmental review of the refinery to the government this fall, now that he’s settled on a Fischer-Tropsch technology for the refinery, versus his initial plan to use cokers.

He said using Fischer-Tropsch will actually reduce the emisssions of the refinery by a half, from seven million tonnes of emissions to three million.

And there are other efficiencies to be had with that technology.

“Also the process is exo-thermic, it actually generates the power and the water we need to run the refinery as well,” he said.

“We’ve been having conversations with engineering firms now, talking about the next steps in preliminary design,” he said. “I think we’ve got it nailed down pretty well so we hope to proceed with the environmental application this fall now that we know which way we’re going to go.”

He said they’re also in the midst of putting together a feasibility study on the plan.

Also, discussions with First Nations communities has been a priority over the past month or so, he said, and he’s been happy with their reception so far, with no one outright turning him away.

“We’ve had a nice reception from the chiefs,” said Black. “We’ve had civil discourse. Lots more talking to do… no one is saying ‘I don’t want to talk to you anymore, I’ve made up my mind.’ Everyone is saying we need more information here. I’m saying modern day pipelines are safe and of course we have to gather the evidence to show that.”

Black has suggested in the past that the refinery would directly employ 1,500 people full time, and another 1,500 would be hired on contract jobs. Six thousand is said to be needed over five years for construction.

He said he’s about three years away from putting shovels in the ground to build it.

In addition to being the president of Kitimat Clean, Black is the chairman of Black Press, the newspaper company which owns, among others, the Kitimat Northern Sentinel.