Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Tar Sand Oil to be Refined in Ontario?

Tar sand proposal for locals at Shell Open House
Thu, March 29, 2007
The curious and the committed came to learn details of a proposed refinery.

WALLACEBURG -- Shell Canada officials were anything but lonely here yesterday as they gave the public its first look at a proposed refinery that could cost between $6 billion and $8 billion.

Tree huggers, job seekers, property owners, politicians, the media and the just plain curious came to the Oaks Inn for a five-hour, show-and-tell.

Hosted by Shell and Jacques Whitford Ltd., the company preparing the terms of reference for an environmental assessment of the project, the open house will be repeated at the Village Inn in Point Edward today between 3 and 8 p.m.

"These open houses are a very important preliminary step in the decision-making process," said Amrik Ahluwalia, general manager of the project. "We're required to consult with the public and we want to make sure we have a meaningful dialogue on all the issues so they can be properly addressed."

The environmental assessment conducted by the provincial ministry of environment will be comprehensive, said Ahluwalia.

The ministry is expected to study the impact of the St. Clair Township project on birds, butterflies, fish, trees, air, water, soil, greenhouse gases, waste management and other issues, he said.

Shell has taken options out on more than 2,000 hectares between Courtright and Sombra in the township -- far more land than it would need for a refinery.

Ahluwalia said the company will spend about $50 million this year on the environmental assessment, site design and land options.

The environment minister is expected to produce the environmental assessment for the site by the fall of 2008.

Ahluwalia said a decision by Shell Canada on whether to proceed with the project is "at least two years away."

He called the project a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

"This one would be state of the art. This plant would operate with much greater energy efficiency than present plants and use much less water."

It would make Shell the largest oil refinery operator in the province, surpassing Imperial Oil in capacity.

Shell can currently produce about 70,000 barrels of oil at day at its refinery on 162 hectares in Sarnia.

The new refinery could more than triple that capacity, said Ahluwalia.

"We would be it to meet Ontario's needs," he said. "We believe Ontario and its economy will continue to grow and remain our primary market."

The refinery would process tar sands oil piped from Alberta after oil and sand are separated at source and the thick oil is thinned, he said.

"Tar sands oil is already coming to Sarnia this way," he said. "The reserves there are the second largest in the world, next to those in Saudi Arabia."

It would take three to five years to build the refinery, he said.

Ahluwalia wouldn't say how many permanent jobs there would be at the completed plant.

"All I can say is it would be a bigger plant than the one we have now that employs about 290 people."

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has said the plant could employ 700 people.

Steve Arnold, Mayor of St. Clair Township, said yesterday "a project of this size and scale certainly give rise to plenty of environmental concerns."

But the public and industry has learned a lot during its history as a petrochemical centre and the mistakes of the past aren't likely to be repeated with today's technology, awareness and tougher environmental standards, Arnold said.

"We're a good fit for Shell and we could sure use the high-wage employment -- as long as all of the public's environmental concerns are answered."

Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content