Irving seeks OK for giant oil refinery

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SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick (AP) – Irving Oil has applied for environmental permits from Ottawa and New Brunswick to build a second oil refinery in Saint John that would supply U.S. markets in the Northeast.

The company released a 200-page project description Thursday to start what’s likely to be a two-year process that will examine the refinery’s potential impact on health and pollution.

The $7-billion refinery is expected to produce 300,000 barrels per day of oil, diesel oil and petroleum coke.

The environmental review will also look at marine terminals that will handle supertankers bringing heavy crude through the Bay of Fundy.

The family-owned company has identified 2,000 acres where it plans to build the refinery, most of it surrounding the existing Canaport oil shipment facility, about five miles southeast of the port city.

The new facility is primarily aimed at supplying the U.S. Northeast, and Irving Oil refers to it as a step towards Canada becoming an “energy superpower.”

If approved, the refinery would be the first facility of its kind built in North American in 25 years.

The company’s president, Kenneth Irving, said he wants community input as the environmental assessment proceeds.

“We want to make sure we involve members of our community and that we do a good job of reviewing all aspects of the project that are important to those of us who live and work here,” Irving said in a statement.

“The feedback has been encouraging, so we are moving to the next phase of the project with some optimism.”

Irving Oil has retained Halifax-based Jacques Whitford to prepare a report on environmental issues.

Critics say the refinery is expected to increase harmful air emissions and double the amount of supertanker traffic in the bay.

The project still needs an energy partner to provide a supply of crude oil.

The company estimates the project would create up to 7,000 jobs during the construction phase, and up to 1,000 jobs once completed.

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