Kitimat Refinery One Step Closer to Reality

Newspaper publisher David Black, shown in this 2006 file photo, announced today that financing is promised for a Kitimat oil refinery.

David Black this morning announced that his proposal for an oil refinery near Kitimat is one step closer to realization, with the backing of Oppenheimer Investments Group of New York

At a breakfast event organized by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Black explained that he had contracted with Oppenheimer to raise the capital for the project. Black then introduced Richard Cooke as CEO, North America, for Oppenheimer. “We have arranged and we have the funding committed to do this whole project,” said Cooke. Referring to the estimated cost of the project, including the refinery, pipelines and tankers, Cooke added, “David talked about a commitment $25 billion. We … and the people behind us, the consortium we put together, acknowledge they will support that total sum.”

That does not mean, however, that the money is in the bank. Black clarified that he hopes to sign a broad memorandum of understanding with Oppenheimer within the next month. “There will be accommodations made on both sides as there are always are in negotiations,” Black said, “but I’m sure we’ll get through to the finish; I’m sure that money will be there.”

Black is chair and founder of Black Press Group, a regional newspaper publisher. He unveiled last August a plan to build an oil refinery near Kitimat that would process bitumen extracted from the Alberta oil sands. He explained at the time that he believes processing the raw bitumen in B.C. rather than exporting it to be refined overseas would keep more money in B.C. and Canada and create more long-term jobs locally.

Black explained at this morning’s event that his motivation is more environmental than economic: “I didn’t get into this to try to make more money for myself in a new industry at the age of 65. I have enough wealth and I enjoy the newspaper business a lot. However, I’m also a sailor and I love the B.C. coast. I got into this to ensure we don’t threaten the coast by putting bitumen into tankers.”