Will an oil refinery in Kitimat be built?
The final day of the Northwest Ports Symposium wrapped up this morning in Prince Rupert and over the last 24 hours David Black, the millionaire newspaper publisher who wants to build an oil refinery in conjunction with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline held two forums, one for the public Thursday night at the Lester Centre in Prince Rupert and again on Friday morning for business leaders at the Ports symposium.
The Lester Centre filled in for a community forum Thursday as Black Press Newspaper publisher David Black hosted a talk on his proposed Kitimat oil refinery.
Black is proposing if the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is built, the oil should be refined in British Columbia and shipped off shore rather than shipping raw crude.
He calls himself a closet environmentalist and feels this would prevent the chance of a crude oil spill.
"I sure didn't like the thought of an Exxon Valdez on our coast, I know like all of you it's very unlikely that their would be an accident, but if there ever were, what a disaster."
The crowd at the Lester Centre was quite opposed to his plan, less about the refinery itself but a lot about the drilling of the oil and the Northern Gateway pipeline.
But a fair bit of opposition came from the Not In My Back Yard crowd proposing Black build the refinery in Alberta next to the source of the crude oil.
When he spoke at the Northwest Ports Symposium, he says he is not interested in Alberta because he wants to put thousands of jobs in BC and specifically the Northwest Region.
"A total of about three thousdand primary jobs in the Kitimat-Terrace area, that would probably, I'm not sure, my guess is it would generate another couple thousand secondary jobs because we'd move a lot of families in and we'd need a lot more people running municipalities and so on, policemen, firemen, educators and so forth."
His reception with business leaders was much different and much more supportive, though there was still a skeptic in the crowd in North Coast MLA Gary Coons. Though Coons is in favour of the oil being refined here at home, many of his constituents are against the pipeline.
"I totally agree with David Black on the premise that we need to refine our raw products whether it's tarsands crude oil or logs. So much opposition to pipelines and we have to remember that here in Prince Rupert and the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District, Terrace and the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District and Smithers are all opposed to pipelines in the north."
The environmental assessment hasn't begun yet and the plans are very tied to the building of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
So the decision on whether or not Kitimat will have an oil refinery won't occur for a while and David Black says he plans to go to China later this year to find customers for his proposed refinery.