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April 2017

Our Jacques Benoit talks gas prices—and our refinery

150 150 Don MacLachlan

CKNW’s Steele & Drex: B.C. company proposes new gas refinery to combat rising prices

With gas prices in Metro Vancouver reaching a record high, paying almost $1.50 a litre is a frustrating reality for most drivers.

Part of the frustration can be traced back to a province-wide decision to reduce the number of refineries in B.C.

Metro Vancouver itself has just one, located in Burnaby, which leaves the province largely at the mercy of refineries south of the border.

One company, however, is looking to establish a new refinery closer to home.

In an interview with Steele & Drex, President and COO of Pacific Future Energy Jacques Benoit explained how the company wants to refine gas here in B.C.

Their proposed refinery would be built between Terrace and Kitimat, and receive raw bitumen from Alberta by rail.

Benoit says this would keep profits from Canadian resources in Canada.

“We ship 98 per cent of our natural resources to the Americans, they refine it and send it back to us. There’s something wrong with that equation.”

Listen to the full interview

And Pacific Future isn’t the only company looking to establish a refinery in the province – Kitimat Clean Ltd. has also filed a proposal to establish one in the same area.

Despite recent controversy surrounding gas transport by pipeline, both companies claim that their refineries would be environmentally safer in the long run; a sentiment reflected by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

In a previous interview with Steele & Drex back in Nov. of 2016, May said she would much prefer the kind of shipping structure Benoit is proposing.

“Guess what? The safest way to ship bitumen is by train. It’s one of those facts that’s inconvenient for people.”

May went on to say that building more refineries in B.C. and Alberta would do more for Canadian jobs than any pipeline.

“Fossil fuel masters of the universe who are digging up bitumen in northern Alberta already own refineries in other countries and have no incentive to create more Canadian jobs. They’re perfectly happy to have us assist them in taking raw bitumen to their refineries.”

Benoit says that with a refinery, the price of gas in Vancouver could drop to levels similar to those seen in Edmonton.

Without one, he says prices could keep climbing.

Benoit concluded by saying the province is wasting an opportunity.

“The oil sands are going to continue to produce… if we don’t process it in the right way and keep it here in Canada, somebody else is going to do it.”

Read earlier media stories

Gasoline prices underline need for new refinery

150 150 Don MacLachlan

That was the conclusion a newspaper columnist reported after big jumps in BC gas prices, attributed to the inability of current refineries to provide enough gas at the time.

In Victoria, columnist Jack Knox told readers of the Times Colonist newspaper on March 31:

“The price jumped seven cents a litre in a single day, to $1.319 from $1.249. If we try harder, maybe we can hit No. 2 next week. “

Knox went on to note: “B.C. used to have seven refineries but now has just two, the Chevron facility in Burnaby and a smaller one operated by Husky in Prince George. Having allowed most of our refineries to disappear, we rely on four big ones in Washington.”

And he quoted Dan McTeague at gasbuddy.com, a website that tracks gas prices across North America.

“’They’re willing to produce gas for us, but at a price,’ McTeague says. ‘We pay a pretty steep premium because of our inability to produce enough in our own backyard.

“‘As buyers, we’re in a weak position,’ McTeague says. If we balk, the refiners will simply sell the same gas to customers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

The Vancouver Sun reported on April 2:

“Prices were as high as $1.42.9 at dozens of gas stations Sunday from Vancouver to Surrey, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge. That is a 13-cent price hike from just a week ago, and 29 cents more than what motorists paid a year ago.

“And the reason? There’s not enough of it, according to Dan McTeague.”