$13-billion refinery plan is yet more evidence of northwest B.C. investment wave

August 17, 2012

Newspaper baron David Black’s plan to build a $13-billion oil refinery between Kitimat and Terrace is yet more evidence that business in northwest B.C. is booming.

Already, more than $60 billion in capital investment is planned or underway across northern B.C., generating a need for thousands of new labourers and service and supply companies to support major projects. Black, owner of the largest privately held newspaper group in Canada, tabled his plan Friday to build a refinery in the northwest, a project he said would generate 3,000 jobs.

The proposal, called Kitimat Clean Ltd., is just one of dozens of major projects planned for the region – and the action is already underway. Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan said her community has rebounded in recent months from “doom to boom” thanks to a smelter upgrade and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.

The community of 8,300, which just a few years ago suffered the shutdown of its pulp mill and methanol plant, is riding high on a wave of workers who have come to town for the $3.5 billion Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter upgrade. That project will generate 1,500 jobs at peak construction. The seaside community is also the site of a planned $4.5 billion LNG export terminal, billions of dollars in oil and natural gas pipeline projects and other LNG terminals.

The story is the same in nearby Prince Rupert.

The city of 13,000, which is also located on the north coast, has diversified its economy into shipping and logistics in recent years. The Port of Prince Rupert reported in June a 17% increase in the amount of cargo processed at the terminal in 2011 to 19.3 million tonnes compared with 2010. The port’s activities have also created 920 full-time jobs, and expansion plans abound at the port’s container and coal terminals.

“The Port of Prince Rupert is truly beginning to capitalize on the potential that this community always knew it had,” port authority president and CEO Don Krusel said in June.

The Northern View reported this month that port activity in Prince Rupert has helped generate 11 new business openings in the last 18 months. Similar to Kitimat, the city is also fielding multiple calls from investors worldwide who are interested in snapping up seaside real estate for yet more LNG or shipping-related projects. Economic development experts in both Kitimat and Prince Rupert have also confirmed there is renewed interest in reviving methanol production on B.C.’s northwest coast.

For more information about major capital projects planned or underway in the northwest, visit Invest Northwest B.C.