Publisher’s bold plan for $13B B.C. oil refinery meets with industry skepticism – by Brian Hutchinson (National Post – August 18, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Local media magnate David Black picked up the phone and called reporters himself, suggesting they meet him Friday morning at a downtown hotel. He had something to share about a new business venture. Something huge. “And it’s not a media deal,” he said.
Which was curious, because Mr. Black publishes newspapers, more than 150 of them, in Canada and the United States. That’s all he does. Black Press Group Ltd., his private, Victoria-based company, has revenues of some $500-million a year. Newspapers have made him a very wealthy man.

But Mr. Black wants to expand his horizons and buttress his legacy. Hence his shock announcement Friday: He plans to build the “cleanest oil refinery ever built in the world,” on B.C.’s West Coast. A $13-billion behemoth, built expressly to refine every drop of heavy Alberta crude oil squeezed from Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
It’s an audacious scheme. Visionary, perhaps. And likely doomed to fail. “I just don’t think the pipeline is going to get built in the first place,” said Eric Nuttall, energy portfolio manger with Sprott Asset Management in Toronto. 
Skeptics be darned, said Mr. Black. This is “nation building.” Rather than load ocean tankers in B.C. with heavy oil, as Enbridge and its partners have planned, he wants them filled with value-added Canadian diesel, gasoline and kerosene. Quit selling raw, unprocessed natural resources to markets abroad. Export refined products instead. His proposed refinery could do all that, and save the environment, too.

“Gasoline, kerosene and diesel all float, they all evaporate,” Mr. Black pointed out.
“No extensive remediation would be required if there ever were an accident [at sea].”
Besides “solving one-half” of the potential oil spill problem, building and running a refinery at the end of the Enbridge line in Kitimat, B.C., would create 6,000 construction jobs over five years, and 3,000 permanent refinery positions, said Mr. Black. There would be “thousands more” secondary jobs. How many jobs do pipelines create? Not so many.
“It’s time we looked after the next generation a little bit,” said the 66-year-old grandfather. He imagines planeloads of workers flying up to Kitimat and making six-figure salaries, creating “tidy nest eggs” for their families.
So determined is Mr. Black that he’s committed to paying for any initial environmental assessments himself. That should set him back a couple of million dollars, he figures.
And the $13-billion required to actually build the world’s newest and cleanest refinery? He doesn’t have it. He doesn’t have any investors at all. Kitimat Clean Ltd., the company he has formed, will need to find capital. He hopes to begin construction in 2014. “No one’s behind this except me,” he conceded.

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