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Skeena struggles to stay afloat

VICTORIA, B.C. -- The pressure is on the B.C. government and Skeena Cellulose Inc. to prove the troubled company is...


VICTORIA, B.C. — The pressure is on the B.C. government and Skeena Cellulose Inc. to prove the troubled company is closer to finding a private-sector buyer before it’s turned over to the wolves.

The massive pulp and lumber producer was bailed out by the New Democrats four years ago, but since then has fallen into even more debt and has started bouncing cheques to trucking companies and contractors working for the company.

Although Skeena has a court-imposed protection from creditors until Nov. 5, it’s looking more and more likely that the company may be forced under, causing up to 10,000 people to lose their jobs. Skeena officials cite high roadbuilding costs, rising stumpage fees and a weak economy for the slowdown.

If the company does shut its doors, B.C. taxpayers will be on the hook for about $400 million in outstanding debts, due to government guarantees. But that’s good news for trucking companies who have been hauling goods for Skeena, as many of them are owed thousands of dollars by the company.

The one possible saving grace comes from two other firms that have considered buying Skeena: Mercer International and NWBC Timber and Pulp.


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