On March 27, 2023, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced that it had concluded the financing for a biorefinery and Canada's largest electrolyzer known as the Varennes Carbon Recycling facility. This is CIB's first project from its low-carbon fuels, carbon capture utilization storage and hydrogen initiative.
Under the terms of the agreement, the CIB will provide a loan of $277 million to a joint-venture partnership between Shell, Suncor, Proman and the Government of Quebec that will enable construction of Canada's largest biorefinery, based on a technology platform developed by Enerkem.
The $1.2 billion facility will include an electrolyzer which will supply clean hydrogen and oxygen to convert more than 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste and residual biomass into biofuels with a capacity of up to 130 million litres annually.
The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs at the peak of construction and about 100 permanent jobs once operational.
CIB funding supports Quebec's leadership in renewable energy and innovation and Canada's aim to be net zero by 2050. The CIB loan aims to provide financing to a relatively emerging industry with upside.
The project will be using Enerkem's proprietary thermochemical process. The carbon recycling facility is expected to cut more than 170,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and 4.25 million tonnes over the project's 25-year lifespan. The annual reduction is equivalent to taking 50,000 passenger vehicles off the road.
Gowling WLG advised the CIB with respect to this financing with a cross-office team from Calgary, Montréal and Toronto, co-led by Elizabeth Burton and Myron Dzulynsky, and that included Braden Sheps (lending and project coordination), David Kierans (lending, Montréal lead), Marco P. Rodrigues (lending), Cliff Prophet (lending - structuring), Adriana da Silva Bellini (due diligence lead, energy, intellectual property), Matthew Sherrard (Indigenous - duty to consult), Angéline Therrien-Lapointe (Indigenous - duty to consult), Kathryn Chadwick (Indigenous - duty to consult), Nicolas Dubé (environmental), Wendy Wagner (trade), Caitlin Schropp (trade), Camille Beaudry (real estate), Fabienne Racicot (real estate), Joey Suri (real estate/lending), Chloe Deschenes (real estate/lending), Tamar Chamelian (real estate), Martine Robert (real estate), Madison Finn (real estate), Pierre Lissoir (translation), Jessica George (corporate), Sean Whiting (corporate), Mark Emmanuel (due diligence), Cynthia Thorne (due diligence) and Natalie Gillespie (closing coordination).