Response to plans for a $13 billion refinery in the Kitimat valley came quickly following the announcement by David Black.
Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says he would “be very, very surprised” to see plans by David Black to construct an oil refinery in the Kitimat-Terrace area come to fruition.
“It’s another chapter in a story that is increasingly becoming more and more ridiculous. This wasn’t in Enbridge’s plans, it’s not in China’s plans, it’s not in the Prime Minister’s plans so I don’t know where it came from…He’s making an announcement with no money, no local support and no support from First Nations so it is very hard to take seriously,” he said.
Black said he will use his own money to finance the proposal through the B.C. environmental assessment, which he expects to cost several million dollars. After that, he said investors would be needed to complete it, assuming both the refinery and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline receive approval.
“There is a reason nobody is backing this…For a newspaper baron to say how the oil industry should be running when nobody in the oil industry is doing this themselves is ridiculous,” added Cullen.
Skeena MLA Robin Austin says while the project is ambitious, it doesn’t change the risks associated with the Northern Gateway pipeline.
“There is nothing wrong with the principle of trying to add value or economic benefit to the project, but the potential for disaster with the pipeline is unchanged,” said Austin.
“Northern communities know the risks are too great, and that’s why they oppose the project.”
Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski said he too was glad to hear of the proposal, but was waiting to hear more about it before taking a position.
“The City of Terrace is always open to new business and job creation opportunities. Mr. Black is a highly respected and successful businessman in B.C. and, as the owner of one of our key media outlets, the Terrace Standard, he is a valued member of our growing business community,” he said in an e-mail to Black Press.
“At this time, we don’t know enough about the project to comment one way or another about it, but we look forward to working with Mr. Black in the future and engaging with our citizens regarding any major investments that could create jobs and help grow our amazing city.”
Kitselas chief councillor Judy Gerow said the band would be taking a wait-and-see approach on a project that would be located on their territory.
“We don’t want to make any kind of statement of endorsement. We are still conducting the independent study so I think it would be too soon,” she said, noting the Black did meet with her prior to the announcement.
“We didn’t talk about partnership…We don’t want to go there now.”
For its part, Enbridge was trying to keep a low profile on the day and released a simple statement about the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
“Enbridge Northern Gateway remains committed to the regulatory process reviewing our application for the project. The Formal Hearings as part of the Joint Review Panel process are set to begin September 4 where issues related to the project are to be reviewed in public and in detail,” said company spokesperson Todd Nogier.