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Transnational corporation Husky Energy Inc. purchases Calumet refinery on Lake Superior

The harbour at Superior, Wisconsin.

The Council of Canadians has expressed opposition to a proposed Calumet Specialty Products oil shipping terminal on the western tip of Lake Superior.

In November 2013, we highlighted that the terminal – which would be located near Calumet’s refinery in Superior, Wisconsin – would be used to load freighters with heavy oil from western Canada to ship to refineries on the Great Lakes.

The terminal would have been able to load a barge or tanker with up to 110,000 barrels of crude oil every four days. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel had noted, “Calumet Specialties, a Superior refiner, wants to ship 13 million barrels per year of crude oil across Lake Superior and through the Great Lakes on barges.”

At that time, the National Post reported, “An oil terminal would allow Canadian crude to travel from Wisconsin across Lake Superior to Lake Michigan, and on to refineries in Whiting, Ind., Lemont, Ill., and possibly Detroit, Mich., near Lake Erie. Other potential destinations could include Sarnia, Ont., on Lake Huron, or even East Coast refineries…”

In March 2014, Maude Barlow wrote in her Liquid Pipeline: Extreme energy’s threat to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River report, “Calumet Specialty Products wants to ship millions of barrels of oil across Lakes and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline cuts through the Great Lakes watershed. If governments continue to allow projects like this, what are our lakes going to look like in 20 or 50 years?” She then recommended, “To protect the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River we must ban all transport of tar sands bitumen on, under and near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.”

By April 2015, we celebrated the news that Calumet – after immense public pressure – had withdrawn its application for the dock project.

But now the Canadian Press reports, “The 50,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Superior, Wis., is being purchased [by Husky Energy Inc.] from Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P. [for $553 million]… Husky’s heavy oil production from Alberta and Saskatchewan is currently about 170,000 barrels per day, but that will increase by about 40,000 bpd over the next three years… The Superior refinery produces about 9,000 barrels per day of asphalt, 17,500 bpd of gasoline and 10,900 bpd of diesel, as well as heavy fuel oils.”

JWN adds, “The transaction includes the acquisition of the refinery’s associated logistics, including two asphalt terminals, 3.6 million barrels of crude and product storage and a fuels and asphalt marketing business.”

Husky Energy Inc. is a Calgary-based transnational corporation controlled by Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-Shing that operates in western and Atlantic Canada, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region. In July 2016, a Husky pipeline leaked 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. The spill compromised the drinking water supply for more than 70,600 people – in North Battleford, Prince Albert, Melfort, and the Muskoday First Nation.

While there is no public mention that Husky may want to revive the shipping terminal application, The Council of Canadians remains vigilant in monitoring this situation. The Council of Canadians calls on Husky Energy Chief Executive Officer Robert J. Peabody to publicly reject shipping tar sands oil on the Great Lakes.