Services for entreprises Les Violons du Roy en représentation au Palais Montcalm

Key sectors

Manufacturing industry

Major innovative projects = healthy economy

Jean Gaulin refinery
Rabaska project
Lévis: energy crossroads
If there’s one thing that characterizes Lévis and the surrounding region, it’s energy diversity: hydraulic energy; oil and natural gas; gas and oil-generated heat; refineries; the Rabaska methane terminal; pipelines; and an energy efficiency research centre, etc. The topic is on everyone’s lips and all signs point to a bright future: the sense of enthusiasm in this regard is positively contagious! In short, the energy sector is giving the Quebec City region a major boost.

Jean Gaulin refinery: key statistics
  • Production capacity: 265,000 barrels a day
  • Main products: gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, furnace oil, propane, butane and industrial fuel oil
  • Number of employees: approximately 490
  • Site area: 370 acres

Rabaska: key statistics
  • Investment value: CA$840 million
  • 73% of the on-site labour will be hired locally; the annual payroll is estimated at CA$60 million
  • Construction start date: 2010
  • Terminal start-up date: 2014
  • 70 jobs will be maintained during the operating phase
  • Operating budget: CA$46.5 million

Lévis has become an energy crossroads thanks in part to infrastructure that is unique in eastern Canada and North America. The city already has two processing facilities and a de-icing plant for energy from northern Quebec—the only one of its kind in the province. And to process oil from overseas, Lévis is home to the largest oil processing facility in eastern Canada in terms of production capacity: Ultramar’s Jean Gaulin refinery, one of the most modern and dynamic in North America.

If everything goes according to plan, the Jean Gaulin refinery will soon be starting work on the 250-km-long St. Lawrence pipeline. Valued at CA$275 million, this project has been in the works since 2003; once the pipeline is completed, the refinery will be in the running for a number of huge contracts. As the foundations for the pipeline are being laid, the first construction crews will begin work on the Rabaska methane terminal, which will make Lévis the sole entry point for natural gas in eastern Canada.

Jean Gaulin refinery

Opened in 1971, the Jean Gaulin refinery processes foreign crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, furnace oil, propane, butane and industrial fuel oil.

Over the past decade, the refinery has invested more than $1 billion to install gasoline desulfurization facilities and to increase its oil refining capacity, now 265,000 barrels a day. To fully utilize this phenomenal capacity, a pipeline between the Lévis facility and Ultramar’s Montreal East terminal is essential.

The St. Lawrence pipeline will certainly be a major asset for the Jean Gaulin refinery, which is in the running for a contract valued at $900 million to $1.5 billion, in competition with other refineries owned by the Valero Group. The project entails converting heavy fuel oil from Algeria, the North Sea, Africa and Russia into lighter products. Thanks to its reputation for on-time and on-budget delivery, the Lévis refinery stands a good chance of winning.


Currently, all natural gas consumed in Quebec and Ontario comes from a single source: the Western Canada sedimentary basin. “Gaz Métro has been trying to diversify its natural gas supply sources for the past 25 years,” says Simon Poitras, Rabaska’s public relations director. The company’s diversification efforts are consistent with Quebec’s 2006-2015 Energy Strategy, which aims in part to enhance energy supply security by building methane terminals.

The Rabaska project thus meets diversification needs and more: “The Rabaska methane terminal will enable us to bring natural gas in from the east coast of the country. This new supply source will compete with Alberta and will drive down prices in Québec and Ontario,” notes Mr. Poitras.

The Rabaska project—the culmination of a partnership between Gaz Métro, Enbridge and Gaz de France—aims to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from overseas. Transported at temperatures of -160ºC, LNG takes up 500 to 600 times less volume than natural gas in its normal state. With construction scheduled to start in 2010, the Rabaska terminal will have tanker docking facilities and will provide transhipment, storage and LNG regasification services. A new 42-km-long gas pipeline will connect the terminal to the Saint Nicolas gas distribution network, while Hydro-Quebec will be constructing two 1.5-km-long 230 kV transmission lines to supply the terminal.

Rabaska – costs and benefits

The Rabaska project’s capital costs are estimated at CA$840 million (CA$775 million for the terminal and CA$65 million for the pipeline). Annual operating costs are pegged at CA$57 million, including approximately CA$10 million for ocean freight rates. This large-scale investment is expected to benefit the entire Quebec City region, while 70% of the spinoff benefits will be felt within Canada, according to the Quebec Statistics Institute.

In another important step forward for the City of Lévis, the project promoters have agreed to configure the facilities so that the heat generated by LNG regasification can be recovered and reused. Lévis will thus have a new energy source available to it that can be utilized for other development sectors.

Julie Bouchard

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