07 March 2008

Go Saskabush Go!

$4B project would be biggest in SK history

Reginans got a close-up look at what could be the single biggest capital project in the province's history at an open house at the Hotel Saskatchewan Thursday, "If we go ahead with it, it will be the largest single capital investment in the province to date,” said John Jenkins, commercial manager of the Belle Plaine polygeneration project for TransCanada. The $4-billion project would convert petroleum coke - likely from northern Alberta - into 300 megawatts of electricity, as well as hydrogen, nitrogen, steam and carbon dioxide for industrial use. "It's industrial-chemical facility on top of a power plant,” Jenkins said prior to Thursday evening's open house. "That's really what it is." The polygeneration project would also be the first of its kind in Canada, although the technology of gasification is used in about 140 plants worldwide. What makes this plant different is the use of petroleum coke which will shipped by rail to Belle Plaine from Fort McMurray, AB. Jenkins said TransCanada looked at other potential feedstock, including lignite coal from southern Saskatchewan and petroleum coke from the Consumers' Co-operative Refineries refinery-upgrader complex in Regina. But neither of those could generate the same range of industrial product streams at the same price as petroleum coke from Alberta. Another unique aspect of the Belle Plaine project is its location in the middle of a major industrial complex, consisting of the Saskferco nitrogen fertilizer plant, Mosaic's solution potash mine and the soon-to-be producing Terra Grain Fuels ethanol plant. Jenkins said both Mosaic and Saskferco would be major customers of the plant's outputs, including hydrogen, steam and electricity. Water would be readily available from Buffalo Pound Lake through SaskWater, pending approval from environmental authorities, he said. Jenkins noted Belle Plaine is also "close to the oilpatch,” which would be major customer of the CO2 produced by the polygeneration plant for use in enhanced oil recovery projects. "There's good confidence that there will be a market for the CO2 in the province." But Jenkins said TransCanada would like to see a more defined regulatory regime and carbon market in place before giving the go-ahead for the project. "It's a delicate balance between having the rules and regulations in place versus moving with the expectation that they will be put in place,” he said.
(Regina Leader-Post 080307)

It's great to see that fate might be smiling on Saskatchewan these days after decades of neglect.

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