Canada expands review of proposed BC grassroots refinery project

The Canadian government has called for the creation of an independent review panel to evaluate the environmental assessment for Kitimat Clean Ltd.’s Kitimat Clean Refinery Project (KCRP), a proposed grassroots facility to be built about 13 km north of Kitimat, BC (OGJ Online, Aug. 16, 2016).

Canada’s ministry of environment and climate change (MECC), decided on Sept. 9 to refer KCRP’s environmental assessment to a review panel after considering concerns expressed by the public and indigenous groups regarding the project’s potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects, the office of the MECC and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) said in a joint release.

Alongside MECC’s decision, CEAA said it also will make funding available to assist eligible individuals of the public and indigenous groups to participate in the review panel’s environmental assessment in several ways, including reviewing and providing comments on the review panel terms of reference and the environmental impact statement; preparing for and participating in future public hearings; and commenting on potential conditions that would be required if KCRP is allowed to proceed.

Funding also would be allocated to enable indigenous groups to participate in consultation activities following the submission of the panel’s report, CEAA said.

Catherine McKenna, minister of MECC, has set timelines for the project’s environmental assessment as follows:

• Prepanel phase, or the timeline for establishing the review panel: 90 days from the project referral date.

• Panel phase, or the timeline for the review panel to submit its report to MECC: 480 days from the date of the review panel’s establishment.

• Post-panel phase, or the timeline for the minister of MECC to issue a decision statement on the review panel’s report: 150 days from the date of the review panel report’s submission.

The above timelines, however, do not include the time it takes Kitimat Clean to complete its work or gather information required for the environmental assessment, CEAA added.

Under its current proposal, Kitimat Clean plans to build and subsequently decommission the following KCRP components upon conclusion of the project’s 50-year lifespan:

• A grassroots refinery capable of processing 400,000 b/d of pure bitumen from Alberta oil sands to produce 460,000 b/d of finished fuels. The refinery will have two 200,000-b/d processing trains equipped to produce diesel, ultralow-sulfur diesel (ULSD), gasoline, and jet fuel mostly for export to destinations in Asia Pacific. The complex also would produce propane and butane products for domestic and export markets.

• A bitumen-receiving facility, including a rail yard and bitumen offloading site. The rail yard will include storage for up to four unit trains that each contain as many as 120 railcars to be delivered to yard via the Canadian National Railway (CNR) mainline. The rail unloading rack will consist of four tracks to enable simultaneous unloading of up to 240 railcars.

• A tank farm containing 54 tanks of various capacity, ranging in size from 265,000 bbl/tank to 450,000 bbl/tank for aboveground storage of bitumen, feedstock, processed hydrocarbons, and intermediate products.

• A 23-km fuel-delivery pipeline corridor consisting of three 18-in. pipelines in a 45-m wide right-of-way to transport processed fuel products to the marine terminal site.

• A marine terminal facility for loading refined products on very large crude carrier (VLCC) tankers for export. Alongside a single-tanker berth equipped to load fuel onto VLCCs, the marine terminal will also include a material offloading facility (MOF) as well as a utility berth with installations for accommodating the harbor tugs and utility work boats.

At an estimated capital cost of $22 billion, KCRP would be able to produce the following:

• 320,000 b/d of diesel and jet fuels, of which 50,000 b/d will be ULSD.

• 119,000 b/d of gasoline.

• 11,000 b/d of butane.

• 9,000 b/d of propane.

While Kitimat Clean previously anticipated bringing KCRP on stream in 2024, MECC’s recent requirement for the 16-month review panel process likely will delay project startup—should it gain final approval—by at least as many months.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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