CALGARY — A Vancouver company is pitching a $10-billion oil sands refinery on British Columbia’s north coast that aims to connect Alberta’s vast energy resources with Asian markets, while avoiding some of the pitfalls others have encountered.
Pacific Future Energy Corp. says the refinery would be the “world’s greenest” and built in full partnership with B.C. First Nations, many of whom are vehemently opposed to proposals to ship crude to the West Coast for export.
Any day now, Ottawa is expected to decide on one of those proposals: Enbridge Inc.’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline. One of the biggest concerns with that project is the fact that huge tankers full of diluted oil sands bitumen, or dilbit, would have to navigate the rough waters of the Douglas Channel on their way out into the Pacific.
This is a solution to everybody’s problem
The Pacific Future proposal — and another one being floated by B.C. newspaper magnate David Black — would mean refined products, rather than heavy oil, would be shipped on tankers to Asia, making a potential spill much less environmentally damaging.
“I think everybody knows that it’s in Canada’s strategic national interest to increase and diversify oil production into Asia,” Pacific Future executive chairman Samer Salameh said in an interview.
“But I think everybody in their heart knows that shipping this dilbit is not the answer.”
A dilbit spill from a supertanker off the B.C. coast would make the Exxon Valdez disaster look like a “joke,” he said.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckB.C. newspaper magnate David Black has also pitched a refinery to process oil sands crude.
“We think it’s horrible to be shipping bitumen out of B.C. waters. We think that’s not the right thing to do by the environment, it’s not the right thing to do by First Nations and it’s not the right thing to do by the B.C. people. This is a solution to everybody’s problem.”