Author Archive | Alan Bryce

Blue Fuel Energy Chair and CEO Juergen Puetter wins Canada’s Clean50 and Clean16 awards for 2017

clean-16-50

Blue Fuel Energy is proud to announce that our Chair and CEO, Juergen Puetter, has been awarded Canada’s Clean50 and Clean16 awards for 2017. These awards are announced annually by Delta Management Group and the Clean50 organization to recognize those 50 individuals or small teams, from 16 different categories, who have done the most to advance the cause of sustainability and clean capitalism in Canada over the past 2 years.

“Delta’s criteria in determining Honourees is to carefully consider actual measurable accomplishments, demonstrated innovation, collaboration with other organizations, and the power of the Honouree’s contribution to inspire other Canadians to take similar action”, notes Delta Management CEO Gavin Pitchford.

“Juergen Puetter was chosen after rigourous screening and research by Delta Management, with advice from internal researchers and external advisors, and was among Honourees  selected from an initial pool of over 500 well qualified nominees.

“The Clean50 come from such a broad array of backgrounds, such that only a few individuals are able to be recognized within any given category. To receive a Clean50 award is truly indicative of both industry and personal leadership in the Renewable Energy category.

“The process to narrow down to just 50 Honourees this year was extremely difficult—the great news is that there are many wonderful and committed leaders in organizations across Canada, working in many different fields, who are concerned about the course of Canada’s future if we don’t all take action quickly. These individuals are rarely waiting for regulations to drive their organizations forward—but are leading by example and harnessing sustainability as a force for innovation within their organizations. The individuals we chose for the Clean50 this year are true leaders, and should be an inspiration for all Canadians.”

As for the Clean16 award, Pitchford explains that, “The 2017 Clean16 are truly the leaders of the leaders in sustainability in Canada. The competition for the top spot this year in every instance left us with many great choices—and to be selected from amongst such a strong group of peers is truly a testament to the contribution Juergen Puetter has made to helping make Canada more sustainable for all Canadians.

“The cumulative accomplishments of Canada’s Clean16 over the past 2 years adds up to a very big number. All Canadians should be grateful for the leadership these individuals have shown—and for the support that their organizations have provided.”

Turning water into gasoline

Credit: Business In Vancouver

A refinery proposed for Chetwynd would use B.C.’s abundant natural gas, water and electricity to make low-carbon gasoline – but do the economics work?

Gas storage pipeline: a B.C. company is touting technology that would use B.C. natural gas to produce low-carbon gasoline | Zorandim/Shutterstock

Gas storage pipeline: a B.C. company is touting technology that would use B.C. natural gas to produce low-carbon gasoline | Zorandim/Shutterstock

 

In this fourth instalment in its ongoing climate change series, BIV looks at one of the emerging technologies that could harness B.C.’s rich natural gas reserves to create lower-carbon transportation fuel. Previous instalments in the series include “Climate change looms as major threat to key B.C. industries” (issue 1320; February 17–23); “Shrinking timber supply sends B.C. companies on U.S. mill buying spree” (issue 1321; February 24–March 2) and “Local ski hill business hit with warm weather woes” (issue 1322; March 3–9).

Imagine a type of gasoline that is made without oil, produces fewer carbon emissions than a conventional oil refinery and even produces some water as a byproduct.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

In fact, separating the hydrogen and oxygen atoms from a water molecule and then using it – along with natural gas – to make a low-carbon synthetic gasoline is technologically feasible, given a sufficient amount of power.

As with all alternatives to fossil fuels, the biggest hurdle is cost, not technology.

Juergen Puetter, founder of Aeolis Wind Power Corp. and Blue Fuel Energy, thinks the time is right to build a “renewable” gasoline plant and that Chetwynd – on the edge of B.C.’s prolific Montney gas fields – is the ideal spot for it.

For one thing, B.C. has abundant, cheap natural gas – one of the inputs. More importantly, B.C. has a low-carbon fuel standard and almost all of its power comes from renewables: wind and hydro.

Because electricity and water would produce a small amount (about 3%) of the fuel’s basic building blocks (hydrogen and oxygen), it would qualify for the low-carbon fuel standards that B.C. has adopted and that other jurisdictions, like Oregon, are implementing.

The first phase of the Sundance Fuels refinery project would produce low-carbon gasoline. A second phase would be a methanol plant.

The proposal is getting support from the West Moberly First Nations and mayors of Chetwynd and Dawson Creek.

Rich Coleman, B.C.’s minister of natural gas development, also seems to think the project could be a good complement to the province’s nascent liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

“Generally, fuel production associated with these types of projects can help B.C. to meet low-carbon standards by supplying a cleaner alternative than gasoline refined from oil,” he said. “This type of value-added production could complement our emerging LNG industry.”

The $4 billion question is: will investors buy in?

Puetter needs to raise $50 million in private placements to bring the project to a final investment decision. He estimates the two-phase project will cost $3 billion to $4 billion.

But Arno de Klerk, professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, thinks that estimate is low. He ballparks the kind of refinery Puetter is proposing at $10 billion.

Although it would use natural gas as a component, the Sundance Fuels refinery is not to be confused with gas-to-liquids (GTL) refining, in which gasoline is made from hydrocarbons other than oil – natural gas, coal or biogas.

The key difference between the Sundance Fuels project and conventional gas-to-liquids refining is the production of hydrogen and oxygen from water to make methanol.

When dehydrated, methanol forms water and dimethyl ether, which can be used as a clean-burning (low-sulphur) fuel. The water produced can be recycled back into the front end of the refining process.

“We are the first and only project, as far as I know, that will bridge renewables and fossil fuel,” Puetter said.

While the refining process is different from conventional gas-to-liquids, it’s vulnerable to the same market dynamics that have relegated new GTL plants to the back burner.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) – which built the world’s largest GTL plant in Qatar – has shelved plans for a new one in the U.S., and the International Energy Agency predicts no new gas-to-liquids plants will be built in the U.S. between now and 2040.

The problem is the price spread between oil and natural gas. As recently as November, the economics were much better. Puetter admits that if oil stays at US$50 per barrel, the project wouldn’t be viable.

“If we were right now in the market, yes it would [be uneconomic],” he said. “However, it’s our firm belief that, by the time we go into production, oil prices will have to be north of US$80. However, we can live with US$60 per barrel.”

De Klerk agrees that B.C. has many of the key fundamentals to make such a refinery work, and he said Blue Fuel Energy’s technology approach is sound, although he thinks the process the company is using could be simplified.

But technology has never been the biggest hurdle to creating low-carbon fuel from the hydrogen extracted from water. Any high school student can pull pure hydrogen and oxygen from water with two test tubes, baking soda, a couple of carbon rods from a D-cell battery and an electrical charge.

It’s the huge amount of electricity needed in the catalytic process that makes it hard to compete, especially with an abundance of shale oil driving global prices down.

The Sundance Fuels refinery would require 150 megawatts of power – more than some of the largest mines in B.C. consume.

“There’s nothing wrong with the synthetic fuels business, but it’s expensive,” de Klerk said. “There’s nothing wrong with using electricity to do water splitting, but it’s expensive.

“Based on my past experience, if I just look at the blocks that’s drawn here, I cannot see how they can make this work and make money, unless the taxpayer subsidizes it.”

Given that 24% of all carbon emissions in Canada come from transportation, Vicky Sharpe, board director and senior fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, thinks innovations like renewable gasoline should be subsidized.

Ten years ago, similar arguments about cost were used against solar power, which now competes with coal-fired power. But it took government subsidies to get there, and if governments are serious about tackling climate change, subsidizing technology that reduces carbon dioxide from cars is a good approach.

“To me the issue is parallel to solar,” said Sharpe. “You haven’t got people clamouring to have low-carbon energy, necessarily, but it is building.”

But she thinks subsidies are needed to accelerate high-capital-expenditure clean technologies because in a low energy price jurisdiction like Canada, private investment will take too long to get in the game.

“If we want to see change faster, then I think we need to incentivize it.”

Sharpe said governments could encourage more institutional investment in renewable fuel technology through initiatives like Ontario’s green government bonds.

“I could see the province in B.C. raising capital from the retail market, as well as institutional investors, and direct money toward these kinds of projects.”

nbennett@biv.com

Blue Fuel Energy signs tax sharing agreement with Chetwynd and Dawson Creek

Credit: The Chetwynd Echo

CHETWYND – The District of Chetwynd and City of Dawson Creek have partnered to reach an agreement to support the proposed $2.5 billion Blue Fuel Energy low-carbon refinery. The project, which when complete would generate up to 150 full-time jobs, could provide a potential new source of revenue to benefit residents in both communities.

The District of Chetwynd is asking the proponents of Blue Fuel Energy Corp. to support a boundary expansion that would see the project included in Chetwynd municipal boundaries. Taxation revenue would be shared with the City of Dawson Creek in the same formula and tax-sharing arrangement as currently exists with the adjacent Chetwynd Mechanical Pulp project.

The project would be located on a 1,055-acre site within Chetwynd’s proposed extended municipal boundaries, and would use natural gas, wind and hydroelectric power to produce reduced carbon gasoline. The project proponent, Sidney, BC-based Blue Fuel Energy Corp., hopes to progress the permitting and other aspects of the project to be able to make a final investment decision before the end of the year.

“Blue Fuel Energy will be an excellent corporate citizen and this project will be a huge asset to Chetwynd and Dawson Creek. We welcome the opportunity to work together to facilitate sustainable development,” Mayor Merlin Nichols, District of Chetwynd said in a press release Friday. Nichols was unable to be reached for formal comment regarding how or when the new boundary expansion is to occur.

—Naomi Larsen, Chetwynd Echo Staff

Blue Fuel Energy open house sees more than 150 people attend

Credit: The Chetwynd Echo
The project is estimated to bring in between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs during the construction phase.

The project is estimated to bring in between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs during the construction phase.


CHETWYND – More than 150 people packed into the Cottonwood Hall Thursday evening to hear more about a proposed $2.6 billion renewable clean fuel energy plant scheduled to be constructed by Victoria-based Blue Fuel Energy on 1,055 acre parcel of land located on the outskirts of town.

The evening included an open house and a presentation by CEO Juergen Puetter and company spokesperson Michael Macdonald who was once the senior vice president of global operations for Methanex: the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol. Macdonald has built similar plants around the world including Egypt. Macdonald said the first phase of the project would be a refinery at a cost of between $2 billion and $2.5 billion that would use natural gas – readily available in the Chetwynd area – and hydrogen and oxygen from water.

Once completed, it would be followed by a $1.8 billion methanol plant. He said the plant will have a very small carbon footprint and would be cleaner than any refinery out there currently. Macdonald explained the project to the crowd and gave the low down on how it’s all going to work including a short chemistry class on the molecular breakdown of the elements needed to create their final product – gasoline. Using technology licensed from ExxonMobil, Macdonald said the plant would make methanol from natural gas, which would then be made into a low-carbon gasoline, using the hydrogen and oxygen parsed from water.

The integrated operations will generate large amounts of waste heat Puetter explained, thus creating opportunity to construct greenhouses and fish ponds that will provide fresh produce and fish for the region. These will be developed in partnership with local First Nations. Blue Fuel Energy has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Moberly Lake First Nations. Puetter said the excess heat would be provided at no charge adding eventually, the offer of free greenhouse heat could be available to anybody including schools.

Macdonald said when the project is completed it would be the only type of plant of its kind on the planet.

“This is a world first,” Puetter said. “We’ll be the world largest electrolizer, the world’s cleanest methanol, the cleanest gas making plant – it’s the first project that bridges renewable fossil fuels and the gasoline sector. It’s really big and totally exciting.”

The energy inputs to separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a water molecule are high. Puetter said the Sundance Fuels project would require 150 megawatts of power (about one-seventh the capacity of the Site C dam), which it would get from the grid. (Some people might also remember Puetter as the president of Aeolis Wind Power, the company behind Bear Mountain windpark in Dawson Creek.

In his presentation Thursday evening Puetter said there is a good possibility that most of the power needed for the plant could be created by wind.) Following the two-hour presentation, Puetter said he was pleasantly surprised with the turnout and response.

This is the second open house Blue Energy has hosted in Chetwynd.

“The first time we came here very few people knew about it,” he said. “Now we’ve had enough time to get it out in the media, people could think about it and head to the webpage. This is now really feeling the pulse of the community and getting feedback.” Most of the questions from the public during the presentation focused on the impact of the plant on the surrounding lands and the residents, the environmental impact as well as the impact on the surrounding community and economy.

“We’re not a resource industry that goes up and down,” Puetter said. “Since I’ve been coming to the Peace Region for the past 15 years Tumbler Ridge has been boom bust, boom bust. This is steady long term. We’re hoping to bring stability.” Puetter said the feedback and questions received will be addressed as much as they can.

“We have a genuine desire to become a good long term community member,” he said. “And I have a feeling we’ve been welcomed.” If everything goes according to plan construction will begin in 2016 with production starting up in 2019. The project is estimated to bring with it between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs during its construction nand around 150 permanent jobs once operational.

—Naomi Larsen, Chetwynd Echo Editor

Final decision on natural gas-to-gasoline refinery pushed to 2016

Credit: Alaska Highway News

AHN-public-meeting

A final investment decision on Blue Fuel Energy’s natural gas-to-gasoline refinery between Dawson Creek and Chetwynd, which had been expected by the end of 2015, is now listed as “achievable in 2016” on the company’s website.

The project’s completion date has been pushed back slightly, from late 2018 to early 2019.

The estimated cost to reach that final investment decision is $50 million.

Blue Fuel Energy CEO Juergen Puetter said he hopes to announce “very soon” where the refinery will source its natural gas, saying he cannot elaborate on a more specific timeline because discussions are “quite confidential.”

“We expect to be settling something very soon,” he said. “Very hard to give a specific time there.”

The company has said that this does not pose a significant hurdle for the project due to the abundance of natural gas producers in the region.

The company has also lowered its projected number of construction jobs for the project by 500.

Originally estimating 1,500 to 2,000 construction jobs, Puetter now says it is likely the project will instead need between 1,000 and 1,500 people to piece together pre-built modules that will make up the plant.

Final construction job numbers will not be known until the detailed engineering is completed, and quotes from potential construction firms come in.

“Two thousand was always on the high end. We think it’s around 1,000 to 1,500 [construction jobs],” said Puetter, “ and of course that will ultimately be determined by when we get all the final quotes. We can’t be very specific, but we know it’s not going to be 3,000 and it’s not going to be 500.”

Factors like a shortened construction season and a shortage of labour in the Peace Region hinder the company’s ability to build the plant from scratch on site.

Puetter said the company has not yet made a final decision on where the modules that will make up the plant will be constructed, but it is exploring options in Alberta.

“The preferred place would be Alberta because it has manufacturing capacity and it’s relatively easier to get from there to here because you have flat terrain,” Puetter explained. “Of course it’s a lot longer if you go Prince Rupert, Kitimat or Vancouver — in all cases it’s roughly thousands of kilometres to come to the Peace [and] it’s not flat.”

The project does not require an Environmental Assessment certificate from the provincial government, which came as a surprise to Puetter and his team.

“We looked at the regulations to see where it triggers [an EA]. The thing that happened was we couldn’t see anything that triggered it,” he said. “When we got that we said ‘that’s surprising, did we over look something?’”

Blue Fuel submitted their analysis to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) to have them double check their findings.

“They reviewed and they said … [our] interpretation is correct. I tell you we were surprised.”

The detailed report which Blue Fuel submitted to the BCEAO will be available in the near future on its website, Puetter confirmed.

The permitting for the project will be done through the Oil and Gas Commission, which for Blue Fuel is a plus as it will be “much, much faster,” according to Puetter.

Permitting is expected to take a year.

Public updated

About 100 people crammed into the Chetwynd and District Recreation Centre’s Cottonwood Hall on Feb. 19 to get an update on the project.

During the presentation, Michael Macdonald, newly minted president of Blue Fuel Energy, noted that if the project is successful, there is room for more than one plant on the site.

The natural gas-to-gasoline plant would employ 150 people full-time once operational, and the number of full-time jobs could increase to about 250 to 300 once the methanol plant comes online.

The first phase of the Sundance Fuels project will cost approximately $2.5 billion, and will consist of a plant that will use natural gas, wind, and hydropower to produce reduced-carbon gasoline.

The second phase will be lead by Canadian Methanol Corporation, and will consist of a second plant on the site, using the same natural gas to produce methanol, which will be sold overseas for use in developing plastics, lubricants and gels.

All told, the capital cost of the Sundance Fuels facilities is projected to be in the range of $3 billion to $4 billion.

The two companies are independent but will share infrastructure at Sundance.

The company has a Memorandum of Understanding in place with the West Moberly First Nation, which allows “both parties to explore additional opportunities and commercial benefits arising form the prospective production of renewable hydrogen and gas-derived liquid fuels on West Moberly First Nation’s traditional territory.”

The project has also been given what the company terms “broad-based” support among other Treaty 8 First Nations in the region.

dcreporter@dcdn.ca

© Copyright 2015 Alaska Highway News

Proposed gas plant in District of Chetwynd will produce the world’s cleanest gas, says CEO

Credit: Northeast News
Proposed gas plant in District of Chetwynd will produce the world’s cleanest gas, says CEO

Proposed gas plant in District of Chetwynd will produce the world’s cleanest gas, says CEO

 

CHETWYND – The proposed Blue Fuel Energy (BFE) renewables- and natural gas-to-gasoline plant, if it goes forward, could potentially turn the world’s eye towards the Peace region.

It could be a producer of the planet’s cleanest and least carbon intensive gasoline, says Juergen Puetter, BFE chairman and CEO.

“We think it’s going to be a project that will be globally recognized. It’s pretty unique,” said Puetter. “It’s the first large-scale project anywhere on the planet that will bridge the gap between renewable energy and fossil fuels.”

“We’re trying to replace an oil-derived gasoline by using natural gas, which is cleaner than bitumen oil,” Puetter explained. “And then further reducing the intensity of the carbon by not burning gas in the process, because if you make any chemicals you need energy, typically by burning gas and making steam. Instead of that we’re using renewable electricity from BC Hydro, which is mostly hydro and wind power—that’s a low carbon density. Those two steps combined make the end product low carbon.”

A unique set of properties found only in the Peace region will enable the Victoria-based company to combine several established technologies in a unique way, which together could potentially make the plant the cleanest gas processor in the world.

First, vast amounts of natural gas available in Northern B.C. will provide BFE with the raw material it will need to produce its low carbon gasoline.

Second, Northern B.C.’s abundant clean energy sources in the form of wind and water hydro electricity will be used to power the plant instead of burning gas or coal.

“We’re the first ones to use renewable electricity to drive the plant,” Puetter said. “The more electricity you put into the process, the less fossil fuel we need and the more renewable it becomes, and that’s pretty special.”

The third factor is the low-carbon fuel standards in B.C., Oregon and California; markets in which Puetter and BFE hope to find ready customers for their B.C.-produced low carbon gasoline.

“So what we’re doing, we’re making a substitute for conventional gasoline right here in the Peace region, that is not only made in B.C. but is also much cleaner. That’s different from anywhere else . . . we’re actually making an end product out of natural gas.”

It is a chemical process which BFE’s calls “deliberate and elegant”; reform the natural gas to “synthesis gas”, convert that to methanol, then dehydrate and process it further, using catalysts, into gasoline, the end product.

The methanol-to-gasoline process is well-known and licensed from Exxon Mobile, Puetter says, but the uses of hydrogen and oxygen in their technology are novel and are what will make the plant globally significant as the world seeks greener ways to produce and process fuels.

“We end up having gasoline that meets all gasoline specifications but has a lower carbon intensity than any other gasoline made from oil. The biggest thing these days is to export as LNG (liquefied natural gas),” Puetter said.

“We’re making it right there into a gasoline that we can use right here in B.C. That process will make this gas into the cleanest gasoline on earth. No other gasoline will be cleaner.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

A gas processing plant of this proposed size will produce vast amounts of heat energy; this energy will be given freely to First Nations groups who will build large-scale food producing greenhouses.

The greenhouses will be used to grow organic produce which will be exported around western and northern Canada, Puetter says, with profits being returned to the First Nations groups themselves; BFE has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with West Moberly First Nations which “allows both parties to explore additional opportunities and commercial benefits arising from the prospective production of renewable hydrogen and gas-derived liquid fuels on WMFN’s traditional territory.”

Puetter also extends this opportunity to people at large; “we have lots and lots of energy,” he said. “We’re looking at this as a community service, to enhance our social license. What does it do for society as a whole, what does it do for the community, for the province, what does it do for Canada?”

“If you look at other plants running all around the world, they just burn stuff off or evaporate it, because it’s the easy way to do it, you don’t have to deal with it. But I think environmentally speaking, that’s irresponsible. You want to use whatever you can, it’s use and reuse as much as you can, rather than just waste.”

“We’re trying to get away from this end of the pipe mentality.”

Finally, another byproduct of the plant’s production processes, nitrogen, can be used to reduce water-waste which occurs with much natural gas extraction.

Nitrogen can replace the water used in fracking; Puetter explains, and it is not as harmful to the environment as it evaporates after use.

“It’s a very benign way of reducing the environmental impact of fracking,” Puetter said.

It’s taken eight years to get the project to the point it’s at now, with the land secured and awaiting permitting and “other aspects” before making the “final investment decision at the end of the year.” (According to a press release.)

But support has been growing, Puetter says, from political and environmental proponents alike.

“The provincial government is very supportive, I had discussions with the Official Opposition, with the Green Party . . . we also have talked to environmental groups and have gotten very positive feedback,” Puetter said.

“We’re trying to demonstrate that today, with this technology we have today, it can be done economically and environmentally responsibly, it’s very exciting to be part of it.

“We’re trying to demonstrate that today, with this technology we have today, it can be done economically and environmentally responsibly, it’s very exciting to be part of it.

“What we’re hoping to do as this is built and running, is that others will do similar things. We hope to be a catalyst, that we’re not the only ones to do this. We’re perhaps the first ones to do it, but we’re hoping that others will do similar things because that’s going to be good for the planet.”

Stacy Thomas

news@northeastnews.ca

Hurdle for proposed gas refining facility is laborers

Credit: Northeast News
gas_refinery

The facility in Chetwynd will be similar this the above shown, in Norway.

 

CHETWYND – A unique gas refining facility is likely coming to Chetwynd, but nothing will get built if the company, Blue Fuel Energy, can’t find enough laborers.

“We are in the middle of permitting, we have secured the land, we have done process design, heat balances, technology selection, all that is done, so we are quite far down the line,” said Juergen Puetter, president and CEO.

The $2-billion facility has had a hard time finding a home, with efforts to place it going back as far as 2008.

“We had tried five different sites in other locations, they all had some problem or another, andthis turned out to be probably the most attractive site,” said Puetter.

The Chetwynd site has access to rail, access to water, and flat land – all key components.

The proposed structure, called, for the time being, Sundance Fuel Facility, will turn natural gas plus water into a synthetic gas, which will be converted into methanol, and then eventually converted into gasoline.

“We are using electric drive to reduce carbon intensity, rather than using gas to drive the plant, we are driving it with electric power . . . . Then what we do is we add additional renewable hydrogen by electrolyzing water into hydrogen oxygen, and add that electrolyzed hydrogen into the gasoline to reduce the carbon intensity,” he explained.

The gasoline will be for a North American market, the key appeal being that Blue Fuel Energy will be creating a gasoline that can fulfill the low carbon fuel standard of British Columbia and California, which is currently done by adding ethanol.

All gasoline today is made from oil, and so the Sundance Fuel Facility will be creating gasoline in a new way.

“The technology is actually well known, it just hasn’t been done before here,” said Puetter. “What we are doing differently is how we are putting it all together and using electric drive, and adding renewable hydrogen, so we’ve added some refinements to the process, but the underlying core chemical process has been well known and established.”

The West Moberly First Nations actually suggested Chetwynd as an ideal location, and there are perks for First Nations, as well as local communities.

Using excess heat from the facility’s processing, large scale greenhouses will be developed to use the heat, providing organic process that would be owned, partially if not fully, by First Nations groups.

“Our process generates lots of heat, we can’t recover all of it, and what we can’t recover we give to them, and that’s ideal heat to heat greenhouses,” Puetter said.

Another year of permitting, engineering and design work are the next steps, and if everything goes well for Blue Fuel Energy, construction could start as early as 2016.

Finding laborers is another big challenge, however. The construction period will likely take three years.

“Let’s assume we have all the permits and everything in place, and the financing and everything is there, the next big challenge is going to be finding enough labor, particularly during construction, because where do you find 1,000 or 2,000 people to help build such a large facility? There aren’t enough folks in the Peace that have the skills, or are available, and what concerns us is if Site C goes ahead, then we’d be competing against Site C for labour,” he said.

Nonetheless, the project is moving ahead, and the District of Chetwynd welcomes it.

“If this goes ahead, it’s going to be good for the whole South Peace area,” said Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols.

“Mr. Puetter has some pretty solid ideas, and he is definitely favouring green. And if can follow through with his processes the way he has described them, it’ll be the greenest plant in the area.”

Bronwyn Scott

reporter@northeastnews.ca

Chetwynd wants Blue Fuel gas refinery in its tax base

Credit: Business In Vancouver
gas_refinery

The Sundance Fuels project would synthesize gasoline from natural gas, hydrogen and oxygen at a refinery in Chetwynd. The company says the plant would be similar to this Statoil gas plant in Norway.

 

The District of Chetwynd is hoping to reap tax benefits from a proposed $2.5 billion refinery that would make gasoline and methanol from natural gas.

The District of Chetwynd and the City of Dawson Creek have come to an agreement to move Chetwynd’s boundaries so that it would include Blue Fuel Energy’s proposed Sundance Fuels refinery and bring it into its municipal tax base.

The plant site is located between Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, and the mayors of both communities are showing strong support for the project, which would create 150 permanent jobs for the two communities. Chetwynd has been hard hit in recent years with met coal mine closures.

Under the proposal, Chetwynd would move its municipal boundaries to include the plant site, but would share tax revenue with Dawson Creek.

“Because its almost exactly in the middle of the geography between Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, there was an agreement between the municipalities that whatever the tax structure was put in place for the plant for the District of Chetwynd that that would be split 60-40 between the District of Chetwynd and the City of Dawson Creek,” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead told Business in Vancouver.

The two communities are asking Blue Fuel Energy to support the boundary change.

“Blue Fuel Energy will be an excellent corporate citizen and this project will be a huge asset to Chetwynd and Dawson Creek,” Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols said. “We welcome the opportunity to work together to facilitate sustainable development.”

Juergen Puetter, founder and outgoing CEO for Blue Fuel Energy, said he appreciates the support the project is getting from the two communities, but said he could not say whether the company would welcome the boundary change until he knows what the new tax rate would be.

“The actual rate and what it means for us, we haven’t sat down for that one yet,” Puetter said. “In principle, we’re happy to sit down with them. We much appreciate their support.”

The first phase of the project would be the Sundance Fuels refinery, which would use the abundant natural gas in the region to produce close to 1 billion litres of gasoline per year using a technology licensed from ExxonMobil. A second phase would be the construction of a methanol plant.

nbennett@biv.com

Press Release – Chetwynd and Dawson Creek Partner in Support of Blue Fuel Energy Corporation

Credit: Dawson Creek

Chetwynd, February 19, 2015 — The District of Chetwynd and City of Dawson Creek have partnered to reach an agreement to support the proposed $2.5 billion Blue Fuel Energy low-carbon refinery. The project, which when complete would generate up to 150 full-time jobs, could provide a potential new source of revenue to benefit residents in both communities.

The District of Chetwynd is asking the proponents of Blue Fuel Energy Corp. to support a boundary expansion that would see the project included in Chetwynd municipal boundaries. Taxation revenue would be shared with the City of Dawson Creek in the same formula and tax sharing arrangement as currently exists with the adjacent Chetwynd Mechanical Pulp project.

The project would be located on a 1,055-acre site within Chetwynd’s proposed extended municipal boundaries, and would use natural gas, wind and hydroelectric power to produce reduced carbon gasoline. The project proponent, Sidney, BC-based Blue Fuel Energy Corp., hopes to progress the permitting and other aspects of the project to be able to make a final investment decision before the end of the year.

Quotes

“Blue Fuel Energy will be an excellent corporate citizen and this project will be a huge asset to Chetwynd and Dawson Creek. We welcome the opportunity to work together to facilitate sustainable development,” said Mayor Merlin Nichols, District of Chetwynd.

“Working with the District of Chetwynd and Blue Fuel Energy to create a fair property tax structure is another example of how well area municipalities work together, and demonstrates our shared desire to promote economic growth in the area,” said Mayor Dale Bumstead, City of Dawson Creek.

Quick facts

  • The Blue Fuel Energy project represents a potential $2.5 billion capital investment
  • The project would generate between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs during construction and up to
  • 150 permanent jobs once operational
  • Blue Fuel Energy will use renewable energy and natural gas to manufacture methanol and reduced-carbon gasoline, helping to diversify the regional economy toward
  • sustainable value-added products
  • The Peace region is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity due to its extraordinary wealth of wind, hydroelectric and natural gas energy sources
  • Blue Fuel Energy is working proactively with the District of Chetwynd and City of
  • Dawson Creek to develop a project that will benefit both communities for the long-term
  • Blue Fuel Energy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with West Moberly First
  • Nations regarding commercial benefits arising from the project

Contact:

Merlin Nichols
Mayor
District of Chetwynd
(250) 401-4100

Dale Bumstead
Mayor
City of Dawson Creek
(250) 784-3616

Victoria firm plans $2.5 billion gasoline refinery in B.C. north

Credit: Victoria Times Colonist
Blue Fuel's Juergen Puetter with the plane he uses to commute between his Sidney office and B.C.'s north. Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

Blue Fuel’s Juergen Puetter with the plane he uses to commute between his Sidney office and B.C.’s north. Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

 

If all goes to plan, Victoria-based Blue Fuel Energy could pull the trigger on construction of a $2.5 billion gasoline refinery in northern B.C. by the end of this year.

Blue Fuel chief executive Juergen Puetter said the company expects to have its engineering work done, plant designs complete and permitting in place by the end of this year in order to make a final investment decision on the plant near Chetwynd.

“We could start construction in 2016, but things have to go reasonably well for that to happen,” said Puetter, who estimates Blue Fuel will spend $50 million this year just to get to the point they need to raise $2.5 billion for capital construction costs.

Blue Fuel’s refinery project is the fourth to be proposed for northern B.C. In 2012, Victoria newspaper magnate David Black launched a campaign to establish Kitimat Clean, a $22 billion refinery on B.C.’s west coast, which was followed by the $10 billion coastal refinery proposed by Pacific Future Energy. The fourth is Eagle Spirit Energy’s proposal to connect a pipeline from Alberta to an upgrader either in northeastern B.C. or northern Alberta.

Puetter, who is chief executive of Aeolis Wind Power and Canadian Methanol Corporation, believes the investment capital is out there. “I don’t believe that’s a problem,” he said in an interview. “And I think we can do it locally.” By locally he means North America, though he said they have had interest from overseas.

The money would go to building a processing facility that would convert natural gas to gasoline and produce nearly one billion litres of gasoline annually, the equivalent of 20 per cent of all gasoline consumed in B.C. in a year.

Because the process consumes carbon and the facility is fueled by electricity, Puetter said it has a small carbon footprint and will create an ideal drop-in fuel for places such as B.C., Oregon and California that have a low-carbon fuel standard.

Using technology licensed from Exxon Mobil, the process includes first making methanol and dehydrating it into a carbon-reduced gasoline.

“We are doing something that is good for the planet, showing you can marry renewable resources with fossil fuels,” Puetter said, adding he can see a time when gasoline could be made from only renewable resources.

The 1,055-acre site for the plant near Chetwynd, close to B.C.’s natural gas fields, would allow the company to use existing rail infrastructure to ship the final product without the need for pipelines.

Blue Fuel communications director Alan Bryce said they don’t have any firm plans on a natural gas source. “We are currently in discussion with a couple of potential suppliers,” he said. “That is a key element of the equation, but it’s not going to be very difficult to solve. People want to get rid of their gas up there.”

Puetter’s Canadian Methanol Corporation also has plans to establish a $1.8 billion methanol plant at the same site to produce methanol to be used as a raw material by a hungry manufacturing market.

Construction of the two sites will require as many as 1,500 workers and the two facilities combined will employ 275 to 300 people full time.

Puetter said if the Site C hydroelectric dam goes ahead and the Alberta oilfields return to capacity, the cost of labour and finding skilled workers could be a problem and could mean the need for temporary foreign workers. “My preference is to work locally, though,” he said.

The plants could also be a boon to local First Nations, which Puetter said have been very supportive.

“What I learned from the wind-power business is if you don’t have social licence, you’re not going anywhere,” he said. Puetter has talked about offering both land and waste heat —a byproduct of the production of gasoline — to First Nations for greenhouses to establish greenhouse produce businesses. “With free energy in the northeast that can be extraordinarily profitable,” he said.

The plant is in the permitting stage with the provincial government, and Blue Fuel is working with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, Agricultural Lands Commission, Canadian National Rail and the District of Chetwynd.

Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols has thrown his support behind the project.

The company has a memorandum of understanding with the West Moberly First Nation, which allows “both parties to explore additional opportunities and commercial benefits arising from the prospective production of renewable hydrogen and gas-derived liquid fuels on West Moberly First Nation’s traditional territory.”

The project has also been given what the company terms “broad-based” support among other Treaty 8 First Nations in the region. Puetter said similar memorandums are close to being completed with the Saulteau First Nation and the McLeod Lake Indian Band.

The company also has two former senior Methanex Corp. executives on board: Michael Macdonald, Methanex’s former vice-president of global operations, and Ron Britton, former vice-president, who is Blue Fuel’s new chief technology officer.

— Files from Alaska Highway News and Business in Vancouver