Backers of a push to see a new $10-billion refinery built in Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario to upgrade oil sands bitumen gathered in late August to launch a pre-feasibility study.
Clem Bowman, a former head of Imperial Oil’s research department in Sarnia who went on to play an important role in developing Alberta’s oil sands, returned to Sarnia where the centre named for him was established at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.
He and others have been working to convince Canada to capture more jobs and wealth from western oil sands by processing and refining additional bitumen in Sarnia-Lambton, instead of exporting that resource to refineries outside of the country.
Those efforts included a bitumen conference that drew oil industry representatives to Sarnia-Lambton last year.
Bowman said the group’s aim is to collect $100,000 from industry and then another $200,000 from governments in Ottawa, Ontario and Alberta.
“We went to a number of companies in the area and, so far, I think we’re over $130,000,” he said.
“We exceeded our target and everybody seems to be excited about it.”
At this point, the Alberta government is willing to provide in-kind technical assistance and sit on a steering committee, Bowman said.
“They’re willing to be a participant to help make it happen but since it’s out of the province, it’s tough for them to put money into it until the Ontario government puts something in.”
At the time of this article, Ontario hadn’t contributed financially.
Bowman said the importance of the proposed Sarnia upgrader was highlighted in a recent Canadian Academy of Engineering publication that identified it as a national energy project that “would have the best chance” at an having an early start.
“Canada will have to invest in its own infrastructure to add value to our resources, and this one in Sarnia is a key one that I haven’t heard anyone speak against,” Bowman said about the plan. “Canada’s economy is giving away $2.5 billion a year by not building another refinery.”
(Source: The Observer)