A lot of those helicopters and planes you see flying around in fire season are burning a product produced in Slave Lake. Enerchem, at its plant located on the Marten Hills Road, has been making jet fuel for a few years now and it seems to have taken off.
“It’s very handy,” says Ingo von Wackerbarth of Max Fuel Distributors. “It’s a good product.”
Remote Helicopters manager Brian Rosche agrees.
“We’re very happy to have them close by and we’re happy with their product,” he says.
One reason for being happy with it is the Enerchem plant is the only one in Western Canada (as far as Rosche is aware) that produces Jet ‘B’ fuel, a lighter version than the more common Jet ‘A’. Jet ‘B’ is better for winter use, he says.
Enerchem got into the Jet fuel business three years ago or so, as a sideline when the market for condensate (for diluting heavy oil) dropped off. Kevin Bouchard told The Leader at the time that it didn’t amount to much and there wasn’t much he wanted to say about it.
Three years later and the Slave Lake plant is supplying government firefighting bases all over the province, as well as private companies such as Remote year-round. Bouchard did not return The Leader’s call by press time.
Von Wackerbarth figures in the fire season his company moves about a thousand drums of the stuff, or over 200,000 litres.
Rosche is pleased about the situation not just because he’s a jet fuel customer. He’s also an M.D. of Lesser Slave River councillor with a keen interest in economic development.
“It’s creating jobs locally,” he says.
That suits Can-West Air, which also uses Enerchem jet fuel at its Slave Lake base. Furthermore it supplies the stuff to the Forestry planes at the tanker base.
“We try to support the local economy as much as possible,” says company spokesman Josh Fehr. “We take fuel from them for all our northern bases.”
The Enerchem plant near Slave Lake