Another View: The Kitimat Refinery project

Jim Shephard talks about David Black's refinery project

I first heard of this concept from David Black a number of years ago.

At the time I was skeptical of its chances. My initially negative attitude was based mainly on my experience of 10 years service on the board of directors of Imperial Oil. Since I was accustomed to the discussion of petroleum economics centered in Calgary, I saw no need for a refinery in Kitimat. That attitude was based on the fact that there had not been a new refinery built in North America in many years. And any needed increase in petroleum production was achieved by expansion of existing refineries throughout North America. But after my service with Imperial Oil, I went on to serve four years at Canfor which led to my nine visits to China in search of lumber markets.

My exposure to the phenomenal expansion of China’s economy opened my  eyes to the true merit of the Kitimat refinery concept. It made me realize that it would not be just another refinery relying on the North America market but rather a refinery that would supply the vast appetite of China for petroleum products. The challenge will be to draw the attention of Asian investors who would see the value to this investment. It appears that David Black, after many years of effort, is nearing an agreement that could provide the vast capital infusion needed to make this refinery initiative  a reality. The appetite for oil products  for all Asia will continue to grow and the Kitimat refinery is ideally situated to take advantage. Asian countries, especially China, are very interested in securing sustainable supply of resources that will flow freely without undue trade barriers like surprises with taxes, regulations or tariffs. Canada has a good reputation as a free trade country that can be relied on as a dependable source of

supply. Now is a very opportune time to attract the vast investment needed to make the Kitimat refinery go ahead. David Black, with his years of dilligence , deserves our appreciation  for displaying the foresight and courage to invest his time, money and reputation to help bring along this huge initiative .

The positive merits of the Kitimat  refinery are so profound that this project is really     beyond  any political persuasion . Any and all supporters of NDP, Liberal, Conservative  or even Green should see the tremendous benefits that would come to BC  with this project.

This initiative will involve the investment of many billions of dollars.

That’s for sure. It’s hard for any of us to visualize a million let alone a billion of any thing. So lets look at the “ on the ground” facts of such an undertaking for all of us in B.C.

Let’s start with the big picture. When it comes to the benefits of a petroleum cycle from well exploration to the gas station, the jurisdiction that hosts the refining process enjoys a huge portion of the value addition to the raw material. For the KFC Project that would mean several thousand mostly trade union jobs for the multi-year term of the construction  phase.

It would also mean the creation of over 3,000 permanent jobs for the operation and supply support of the refinery when running.

This refinery would be processing 175 million barrels per year which means the tax revenue that could go toward healthcare, education, vital services for the disabled and elderly would be immense.

But job creation and tax revenue is not the only desirable feature of  the KRC.

It also would provide much lower risk to the marine  environment. The shipments out of the refinery would be finished product like aviation fuel, gasoline and diesel These .products if ever spilt would be much less impactful  on the marine environment. They would also  be transported in smaller ships.

I know there are those on both sides of the political aisle that  address this as  a political issue. And I would disagree with both. This is a project that can be attractive to all political stripes. Trade unions would see a significant increase in jobs and memberships.  Hospitals and schools across the province would see an improvement in government funding. Business activity especially in the challenged north west BC would be very positively impacted. And those with a concern for the threat of marine spills would see a significantly reduced exposure for the environment.

Based on the huge positive impact this initiative could have on B.C., I think the question should not be if we want it….but rather, how can we help make sure that the petroleum world sees this as an attractive way to invest billions of shareholder capital.

 

 

Jim Shepard

Retired President of Finning and Canfor and a past Director of Imperial Oil.

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

Just Posted

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Metchosin council introduced a bylaw at a special council meeting Wednesday, which, if approved, would limit further subdivision of a 40-acre portion of the Boys and Girls Club property. The proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Metchosin council introduces bylaw to limit subdivision of Boys and Girls Club property

Proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15

The Habitat Acquisition Trust has secured a biodiverse 23-hectare parcel of land in Highlands through a donation from Anne and Jim Ganns, who owned the property for 50 years. (Photo by Jeremy Da Silva/Courtesy Habitat Acquisition Trust)
23-hectare land donation in Highlands extends permanent habitat protection

Anne and Jim Ganns pass on property purchased 50 years ago to the Habitat Acquisition Trust

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: Triple cross piques interest in Sooke and beyond

Al Shepherd erected the cross to create greater interest in the Christian faith

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Most Read