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West Coast Olefins looking to build $5.6 billion petrochemical plant in Prince George

A $5.6 billion petrochemical plant that would create 1,000 jobs is in the works for Prince George.

West Coast Olefins of Calgary announced Wednesday in Prince George that has secured a 300-acre site in the BCR Industrial site for the plant, which is still subject to regulatory approval.

“The Prince George facilities, using the latest available technologies and leveraging feedstock and transport advantages available in the city, will be the most competitive in North America,” said Ken James, president and CEO of West Coast Olefins. “We are overwhelmed with the level of support we have received. Mayor (Lyn) Hall, council, and city staff have been very helpful in understanding the importance of economic diversification to the city.”

The project would include a “world-scale” ethylene plant and polyethylene facility and the majority of the polyethylene product would be shipped to growing Asian markets. Polyethylene is a common plastic used to make plastic bags, plastic films, and drink bottles.

Once fully operational, the facility will create up to 1,000 permanent highly skilled jobs, while several thousand workers will be required to support the construction effort over a three-year period. Tens of millions of dollars in sustaining capital investment will be required each year to support the facility.

West Coast Olefins is preparing to enter the formal regulatory approval process and is targeting a final investment decision by the end of 2020, followed by a three-year construction period to bring the facilities into full commercial operation. This will include a significant public engagement and consultation process.

“Council strongly encourages businesses to invest in our community,” said Hall. “We think this project has great potential and promises to have a major, positive economic impact for Prince George, the region, and the whole province. I would like to thank West Coast Olefins for recognizing the fantastic business and industrial opportunities available in our city and that Prince George is a supply and service hub for all of northern BC at the confluence of rivers, roads, and rails as well as an official Foreign Trade Zone. Council looks forward to the appropriate and necessary environmental and regulatory processes and consultations occurring with local, provincial, and First Nations stakeholders over the next few years.”

James said company is aware of the local sensitivity to air shed concerns in the ‘bowl area’ of Prince George, especially particulate matter and odour issues. The plant uses a low-carbon, clean-burning mixture of methane and hydrogen as its main fuel source for fired equipment that has no soot or odour and minimizes GHG emissions.

“We believe that this makes a strong case for how this project fits with the provincial climate action plan,” James said.

For the past year, West Coast Olefins representatives have been researching Prince George, and meeting with Prince George-area contractors to investigate local capabilities to ensure that the company maximizes its use of local labour and associated construction and fabrication infrastructure.

The overall project will include:

  • An NGL recovery plant to recover ethane, propane, butane, and natural gas condensate from Enbridge’s West Coast pipeline.
  • An ethylene plant to produce one million tonnes per year of polymer-grade ethylene.
  • A polyethylene plant to consume most of the ethylene produced.
  • Associated off-site facilities and infrastructure.

Company officials also say there is a possibility of a mono-ethylene glycol plant being constructed on site to utilize the balance of the ethylene produced.

The project will be constructed within the territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and West Coast Olefins will be working closely with Chief Clay Pountney and his council.

“Lheidli T’enneh Nation looks forward to potentially partnering with West Coast Olefins to ensure that if the project is approved it will provide significant economic benefits to Lheidli T’enneh and our members, and is designed and built in a way that is aligned with our values,” said Chief Pountney.

West Coast Olefins Ltd. was incorporated one year ago to develop value-add projects that can leverage the abundant natural gas resource in British Columbia and ensure maximum economic value is realized by the local community through the full project life cycle.

James is the former CEO of Nauticol Energy, a company developing methanol and fertilizer projects in Quebec and Alberta, and former President and CEO of KemeX Ltd., an international oil and gas and petrochemical consulting firm.

He has consulted on numerous international petrochemical projects and has gained significant experience in senior project development and management. He is a professional engineer and APEGA member, he earned his degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Chief operating officer for the company is Ron Just who, fors the past 10 years has been providing business development, process safety management and management consulting across Western Canada’s hydrocarbon processing industries and previously was on the Board and Management team of KemeX Ltd.

A professional engineer and member of both APEGA and PEGBC, Ron earned his degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Shafiq Karmali is the Chief Financial Officer of West Coast Olefins Ltd. and has spent the past 23 years focused on global finance. He started his professional career as a control systems engineer in the pulp and paper industry in British Columbia before attending business school and focusing on finance.

He worked for Goldman Sachs in London, New York and Hong Kong over a 13-year period in various roles and businesses before eventually retiring as a managing director in the Principal Strategies Group based in Hong Kong. Karmali also serves as the CIO of Cypress Lane Capital (Canada) Ltd., a private family equity long/short investment portfolio. He earned his degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and his MBA from the London Business School.

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