Home > Industry stuff > David Black – yes, that David Black – proposes $13 billion Kitimat refinery

David Black – yes, that David Black – proposes $13 billion Kitimat refinery

August 17, 2012

This week, David Black didn’t just wade into the whole Enbridge/Gateway Pipeline debate, he jumped up to his armpits into the thing by proposing to build a $13 billion refinery near Kitimat to process tar sands oil. The project would provide thousands of jobs. And because gas and diesel—the refinery’s output—is apparently safer than tar sands bitumen, it would decrease risks associated with tankers weaving through that narrow straight. I’d guess that it won’t satisfy environmentalists, but it might persuade northerners to decrease their opposition.

Black doesn’t have the money (obviously). But he says he’ll raise the cash and build the refinery through his company, Kitimat Clean Ltd.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on Black Press’s editorial pages. A decade-plus ago, Black asserted his right to order his papers not to publish pro-Nisgaa Treaty editorials. As the Vancouver Sun‘s Jeff Lee reports in a profile on Black today, the B.C. Press Council said Black was within his rights to do so, since his order applied only to editorials.

But according to Lee’s piece: “Black said he’ll be in a publishing conflict in Kitimat and Terrace because he owns newspapers there, but he won’t tell the editors what to write in news or opinion pieces.”

You should read the full story, but here are three paragraphs of note:

His model for newspaper ownership — buy cheap or distressed properties, ruthlessly cut unnecessary staff, make budgets squeak and consolidate common services such as printing, accounting and human resources in regional centres — has wholly rewritten the newspaper industry in British Columbia and Washington. His Black Press Ltd. also owns daily newspapers in Hawaii, Ohio and Alberta and he also owns the San Francisco Examiner, once owned by Randolph Hearst. Between all of them his companies have a circulation of more than 2.8 million and an annual estimated income of more than half a billion dollars.

But for the first time in his business life, Black is stepping outside his area of expertise and is heading into a business that certainly no one else in Canada has recently been willing to try: building a state-of-the-art world class oil refinery, and in British Columbia, of all places.

Black, 66, said it doesn’t bother him that he doesn’t have the personal expertise it takes to build and run a refinery capable of processing 550,000 barrels of crude oil a day, especially Alberta oilsands crude. Why should he when he can hire that expertise? What he does have, he says, is a patriotic and passionate view that Canada needs to take control of its energy policy, a policy now driven by U.S. interests that stacks the odds against Canadian resource producers.


Here’s a big story on the proposal that tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Here’s the website for Black’s company. He might be trying to raise billions of dollars of capital, but Black seems to think $500 was too much to spend on his business’s web presence.

Kitimat’s Northern Sentinel has a story on the proposal, but you can’t read it unless you’re a subscriber. That’s a definite flaw in the Black Press paywall: this news is everywhere. It makes no sense to have this huge breaking story behind the paywall. [UPDATE: it makes no sense especially when you can find the article on other Black Press sites. As commenters have pointed out, a story is available here.]

Also, leave a comment.

  1. Pen and Pad
    August 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Great idea. Give Black points for stepping up. If he can’t do it then no one can. BUT, Jesus H. Christ, if Black can afford to dig $10 million out of his long pocket with his short arm for an environmental review then he can surely dig just as deep in the other pocket and shell out to his newspapers offices to shore up wages and add staff. His goons are always citing budget reasons for cutbacks and wage freezes, which rings hollow now considering how much he just threw around on a gamble ? As for editorials in Black’s Kitimat and Terrace papers about the refinery, time will tell whether he influences or not. But wouldn’t it be a big bitch if editorials from those papers consistently opposed Black’s proposal and played a part in defeating his own idea?

  2. Sam
    August 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

    You can read the Black Press story — likely the same one that’s behind the pay wall at the Northern Sentinel — here: http://www.bclocalnews.com/breaking_news/166555356.html

  3. Anonymous
    August 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Here’s a link to Tom Fletcher’s article on the announcement. You’d think someone in the employ of David Black could have produced something more substantial. http://www.bclocalnews.com/breaking_news/166555356.html

    • Anonymous
      August 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      You’re funny, anon.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: