Jean Gaulin Refinery: From Eyesore to Art

October 9, 2016
Jean Gaulin Refinery

Lévis, Quebec marine terminal transforms unsightly “intruders in the landscape”

By Lorie Steiner

When the community speaks, big business should listen. Valero Energy Inc. did, and the result is amazing. On Sept. 23, 2016, two stunning frescoes were unveiled at Valero’s Jean Gaulin Refinery marine terminal in Lévis, Quebec. But they aren’t hanging in a grand front lobby, or a gallery hall outside the corporate suites. These magnificent works of art (each 15 metres high and 27 metres in diameter) depicting a historic vignette of the St. Lawrence River, were created on a pair of enormous refinery tanks visible from the bike path bordering that very same river.

"Jean Gaulin Refinery unveiled giant frescoes on two tanks in Lévis - Sept 23/16. (CNW Group/Valero Energy Inc.)"

“Jean Gaulin Refinery unveiled giant frescoes on two tanks in Lévis – Sept 23/16. (CNW Group/Valero Energy Inc.)”

“Today, thanks to the cooperation between liaison committee members, the working group and Valero Energy, we can appreciate the image conveyed by these frescoes. They have become a socially acceptable balm on these two tanks which were long perceived as intruders in the landscape,” stated Alexandre Faber, Chair of the Community Liaison Committee involving the Valero Energy Jean Gaulin Refinery, after the unveiling.

The Jean Gaulin Refinery is covering the entire cost, as part of a $5 million enhancement program announced in June 2015 to address concerns from the public. With a nod to history, a liaison committee comprised of Valero Energy company stakeholders, the City of Lévis, various organizations, and the community at large chose a trompe-l’oeil adaptation of an 1870 picture from Montreal’s McCord Museum. The work portrays the industrial past of Lévis and the importance the St. Lawrence River has had in its development.

Gilles Lehouillier, Mayor of Lévis, praised the welcome addition to his city. “I salute Valero Energy’s commitment to its community and its sustainable development efforts. By creating these magnificent frescoes in cooperation with local stakeholders, the company has responded to concerns expressed by the public, to whom we wish to provide a quality living environment. Valero Energy’s vision fits nicely with the new initiative embraced by the City of Lévis, which is particularly aimed at enhancing the river and its affluents, major urban parks and the interconnectedness of its bicycle paths.”

General Manager of Valero Energy’s Jean Gaulin Refinery, Ms. Martine Péloquin, spoke of the project as a proud collaborative accomplishment for the company and the community. “We are very happy with the comments we have received since the work started in July. This further confirms the merits of the interventions we have made in cooperation with the people from the area. It is a source of pride for Valero Energy and all of its employees to deliver concrete initiatives that can positively impact the community.”

Being a good neighbor

The Jean Gaulin Refinery began operations in 1971. It is the largest refinery in Quebec, the second largest in Canada in terms of capacity, and handles crude oil from overseas, the Gulf of Mexico, and North America – shipped by pipelines and tankers to its year-round deep-water port on the St. Lawrence River.

As a major employer in the region (approx. 480 permanent and 200+ contract employees), Valero Energy believes that fostering a positive relationship with the community is essential, from a corporate and human perspective. With that in mind, the energy giant has invested millions of dollars to develop a greenbelt on lands next to the refinery, and implement enhancement programs featuring tree plantings, the fresco paintings on the tanks along the bicycle path, St. Lawrence River dock updates, and changes to the pipe system structure linking the dock and the refinery.

For a mega-production facility like the Lévis refinery, achieving harmony with the environment takes a great deal of vision and concentrated planning. The greenbelt project was designed to create a green buffer zone between the industrial park where the Jean Gaulin Refinery is located and the nearest residential areas. Valero’s $9.5 million investment spearheaded the acquisition and development of Le Parc de la Jetée, le Parc Valero les Écarts, the Abbey Woodland and the Auberivière golf course. The general public now has access to an area 1.6 times larger than the Battlefields Park in Quebec City. The land is co-managed with organizations in the region as recreational space.

Next on tap for Valero’s Lévis refinery: the phase-by-phase installation of a stylized screen to minimize the presence of pipes bordering the river. This company truly sees the big picture – and it is beautiful.


About Valero

Valero Energy Corporation, through its subsidiaries, is an international manufacturer and marketer of transportation fuels, other petrochemical products and power, employing close to 10,000 people. Approx. 7,500 outlets carry the Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, and Beacon brands in the United States and the Caribbean, Ultramar in Canada and Texaco in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Valero is a Fortune 500 company based in San Antonio, Texas.


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This feature was written by our Business View Associate Editor and Social Media Director, Lorie Steiner.

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