B.C. Premier Christy Clark

B.C. Premier Christy Clark

Premier shuns refinery decisions to avoid conflict

New Prince Rupert oil refinery proposal involves Christy Clark's ex-husband

Premier Christy Clark is stepping aside from any decisions related to new oil refineries after the emergence of a new refinery proposal involving her ex-husband.

Mark Marissen has been hired as vice-president of Pacific Future Energy, which today announced plans to build an oil refinery in Prince Rupert.

“I learned that this proposal was going to become something real last week,” Clark said, adding she then contacted the provincial conflict-of-interest commissioner for guidance.

Pacific Future Energy is the latest company pursuing the idea of refining bitumen from the Alberta oil sands before it’s loaded onto tankers so there’s less risk to the marine environment waters in the event of a spill.

Victoria businessman David Black, owner of Black Press newspapers, has spearheaded a similar refinery proposal, to be located between Kitimat and Terrace.

Black’s Kitimat Clean plan could use bitumen coming from the Northern Gateway pipeline – if it’s built – or else it could aim to build a separate pipeline or use trains carrying oil by rail.

Black continues to seek a $10-billion loan guarantee from the federal government to satisfy potential international investors.

Pacific Future Energy said it plans a scaleable $10-billion refinery ranging from 200,000 barrels per day up to one million if required.

Salmer Salameh, the executive chairman of Pacific Future and the head of a Mexican infrastructure conglomerate, called it “a unique opportunity to build the greenest refinery in the world.”

The company announced its plan Tuesday and said it’s beginning pre-feasibility studies.

It comes ahead of an imminent decision by the federal government on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry bitumen to Kitimat for export by tanker.

“It is my understanding that this proposal doesn’t depend or isn’t linked to any pipeline proposal,” Clark told reporters Tuesday.

She will refer all government deliberations on any refinery proposal to Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

The conflict-of-interest rules for MLAs do not specifically cover spouses, but say MLAs should recuse themselves if a situation is likely to lead to a perception they may personally benefit.

NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth called it the right decision.

“It’s important that the premier is held to a higher standard,” he said.

The B.C. Liberals 2013 election platform backed the concept of Black’s refinery plan and pledged to support its development.

Black said he met last year with Pacific Future’s Mexican backers, who initially wanted to partner with him on the new refinery.

But he said they were only interested if they got majority control, something Black rejected as against Canada’s interests and potentially leading to reduced environmental safeguards.

“The good news to me is their interest validates our value-added concept for any doubters out there as to whether this is a good business proposition,” Black said. “Here’s somebody else who wants to do the same thing.”

There have been no further talks on joining forces, he said.

Black said he’s not concerned about provincial bias arising from Marissen’s role.

“I’m not asking the province to pick a favourite or anything but I do hope they endorse the concept and provide funding for the concept so we can move ahead.”

Black said he’s been told by federal officials that a loan guarantee from Ottawa is possible – but only if B.C. also backs it financially.

“It comes down to whether the B.C. government is keen on championing this kind of project and has money for it.”

Just Posted

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read