New oil refinery proposed in British Columbia with 300 MW power need

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office on July 4 officially opened the pre-application process where it will decide what information Pacific Future Energy Corp. (PFEC) has to provide to get a certificate on a new oil refinery that might include an up-to-300-MW, gas-fired project to power the refinery.

The refinery would process Canadian bitumen. The company in a June 2016 project description said that it wants to build “the greenest bitumen refinery in the world, transporting our feedstock in the safest manner over land, and not shipping any bitumen in tankers on the northwest coastal waters, in accordance with the oil tanker moratorium which is expected to be formalized and extended by the federal government.”

The Pacific Future Energy Refinery Project is a proposal to build and operate a bitumen oil refinery in northwest British Columbia (BC) between the City of Terrace and the District Municipality of Kitimat within an industrial-zoned site locally known as Dubose Flats. The refinery will have an input capacity of 200,000 barrels per day (BPD) or 31,795 cubic metres per day (m3/d) of bitumen called NEATBIT. NEATBIT (neat bitumen) is a term used to refer to bitumen that has a very low amount of diluent (less than 2%) compared to dilbit (diluted bitumen) which has 30% diluent. NEATBIT is a near-solid that has the consistency of peanut butter and does not flow unless heated (it must be heated to 81°C in order for it to flow easily).

The project will refine NEATBIT into products such as EURO V3 grade diesel and gasoline. Jet A-1 kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and butane will also be produced, in addition to sulphur and treated water as the main by-products. Additional components of the refinery will include:

  • A new rail yard and associated buildings;
  • An industrial railroad connection to connect the refinery rail yard to the existing Canadian National (CN) rail line;
  • On site storage for feedstock and refined products;
  • Ancillary facilities for the refinery such as control rooms, administration and maintenance buildings;
  • Tie-in to an existing natural gas pipeline (possible options include an existing gas line located parallel to Highway 37 or a proposed third-party pipeline that overlaps the refinery area); and
  • Electrical power infrastructure capable of producing 300 MW of clean energy during operations.

The project is in the early stage of engineering design. As design advances, it is expected that the location, size and footprint of the project components  will be refined to take into consideration technical and social perspectives including: engineering and safety requirements; the results of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and input received through engagement with the First Nations government and communities; other government agencies; and the general public.

PFEC said it is considering various options for power supply such as natural gas-fired cogeneration facility and biomass power generation, as well as external supply from the existing BC Hydro transmission grid, geothermal and a combination of all or some of these options.The project will require approximately 300 MW of electrical power. The refinery will produce a significant amount of steam for power generation and steam turbine drives of large compressors and pumps. A gas-turbine generator is proposed to provide the remaining load, the start-up load and to supply critical load for the refinery.

For Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plants, a widely used combination is the use of the hot exhaust generated from a gas turbine burning natural gas to power a steam power generation unit, the company noted. For a 300-MW CCGT plant, as an example, a gas turbine may generate 200 MW power and a steam turbine may generate 100 MW power. The power plant may export steam to the refinery as an option. The water cooling may be replaced by air cooling to reduce water usage.

PFEC is also proposing to utilize existing wood-waste biomass as part of a cogeneration facility for the refinery. The supply of biomass is expected to originate from pulp wood and hog fuel (tree bark and forest residue) from ongoing timber harvest operations and from wood waste, a product of the milling process. The refinery will receive wood waste shipments via rail along the existing rail transportation corridors between Prince George and Prince Rupert. PFEC is currently assessing the reliability of this biomass-based cogeneration facility operation with respect to the refinery operation. The biomass facility is anticipated to produce 25 MW-75 MW (nameplate capacity) of the total 300 MW required to power the refinery.

Other clean-energy options will be considered through independent power producer(s) (e.g., geothermal) or a point of interconnection to the existing 287-kV BC Hydro transmission line or the proposed 287-kV BC Hydro Terrace to Kitimat Transmission line on the west side of Highway 37. This new transmission line is anticipated to meet the demands for electricity for the proposed LNG facilities and other future industrial developments in the Kitimat area.

In the event of failure of the power supply from steam-turbine generators, critical plant loads will derive electricity from an emergency power system. The emergency power system will consist of a combination of standby fuel gas- or natural-gas-driven generators for critical loads. A battery-backed uninterruptible power supply will be available for critical functions such as the plant control systems and computer systems.

Vancouver-based PFEC is a company formed in 2014 to finance, design, construct and operate the project. The management team consists of leaders from the venture-capital, corporate, engineering, First Nations and government sectors, who share the belief that while it is in Canada’s national strategic interest to diversify its markets for oil, it should be done in a socially and environmentally responsible manner while ensuring the protection of Canada’s West Coast.

PFEC’s Executive Committee includes:

  • Samer F. Salameh, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • Mark Marissen, Chief Strategy & Communications Officer
  • Jacques Benoit, Chief Operating Officer
  • Mike Bonshor, Chief Negotiator
  • David Coles, Vice President Partnerships & Sustainability
  • Robert Delamar, Senior Advisor
  • Shawn Atleo, Senior Advisor
  • Heather Squire, Senior Advisor
  • Stockwell Day, Senior Advisor

A project contact is: Jacques Benoit, Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Future Energy Corp., 701 W Georgia Street, Suite 1818, Vancouver, BC V7Y 1L2, Telephone: (604) 559-3611, The company website is

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.