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Ottawa spending $86M on Come By Chance refinery’s conversion to biofuels

Jun 7, 2023

Construction should be completed by end of 2023, says Braya president

The federal government is spending $86 million on the Come By Chance refinery to help convert the facility from one that refines oil to one that produces biofuels, in a move Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called preparing for the “economy of tomorrow.”

The refinery’s owners, Braya Renewable Fuels is partnering with ABO Wind, a German wind energy company, on the project. ABO hopes to power the refinery with green hydrogen by 2027, begin exporting to foreign markets by 2028 and reach full-scale operations by the start of the next decade.

Wilkinson said $49 million will come from the federal government’s strategic innovation fund, while $37 million will come from Ottawa’s clean fuels fund, created as part of a $1.5-billion commitment to reaching net-zero emissions in 2021.

“Clean fuels are an essential part of the clean technology mix in a net-zero world. While electrification will be a chosen route in some sectors, clean fuels are also going to play a very significant role going forward,” Wilkinson told reporters in Come By Chance on Wednesday.

“With this investment, coupled with private investment, the Come By Chance refinery will offer biodiesel to customers as soon as next March, meaning this refinery is set to become a world-class clean-energy facility.”

The renovation of the refinery currently employs over 1,000 people in the region. Wilkinson said the project will create more than 200 permanent jobs once completed, along with economic spinoffs.

Jim Stump, president of refining for Braya, said construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The refinery will produce more than 18,000 barrels of biofuel per day, he said — renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel made from plant-based waste oils and animal fats.

“With thanks to government and our partners, we’re building a future at Come By Chance that will sustain 200 local jobs, decarbonize the heavy transportation sector and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a new net-zero world,” Stump said.

Stump said fuel will initially be created from soybean oil from North America and South America in the early stages of development. The first shipments will be sent to California, he added, but he hopes the product will be used locally and across Canada in the future.

Stump wouldn’t say how much Braya is spending as the renovation continues.

“The $87 million we’re getting from the Canadian federal government is a lot of money and is absolutely necessary for us to complete this project. It was money that we needed, and we’re glad that Canada came through for us,” he told reporters.

Renovation ensures future for Come By Chance

Newfoundland and Labrador MP and federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan called Wednesday a “seminal day” for the plant, saying work done in Come By Chance will give consumers around the world better options to transition away from traditional fuels, which he said will benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

“[The spending] is a signal to Canada, and it is a signal to the world, that our workers are going to get it done,” O’Regan said. “Today, we are investing in the next generation.”

Facility manager Paul Burton, who has worked at the plant since 1991, says he and the refinery’s employees are excited to be part of the future of energy production in Newfoundland and Labrador. He says the opportunity also gives much more back to the area, especially after the refinery closed in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We now know and can be certain that there will be a long and sustained future that will not only benefit the employees here at the plant but will have a major impact on the local communities, the province and our country,” Burton said.

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