May 15, 2014

Transporting Diluted Bitumen Via Sea May be risky

Transporting Bitumen Issue- The alternative view from Mr. David Black reproduced for your views.

In a letter (“Transport systen can handle diluted bitumen” May 14, 2104) Greg Stringham, on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, makes assertions about the behavior of diluted bitumen (dilbit) in salt water that are at best half-truths.

He states dilbit floats on salt water and that it is no more dangerous at sea than other types of oil. That is wrong. It is more dangerous at sea, and infinitely more so than refined fuels like diesel and gasoline.

What Stringham doesn’t mention is the same report from Environment Canada that he quotes from, goes on to say that dilbit sinks in seawater when there is sediment present. Another study by a top U.S. environmental chemist, Jeff Short, says the same thing. It was filed by the Gitxaala Nation to the National Energy Board in March 2013, so Stringham is well aware of it. That study says animal and plant matter like plankton, as well as sediment, cause the dilbit to sink.

Our entire coast has sediment and plankton in abundance. All our rivers are glacial and full of silt. Plankton is omnipresent, which is why the whales are here, and shallow seas like Hecate Strait throw up huge amounts of sediment from the bottom in storms.

Dilbit will sink in our waters if there is a spill and it will harden up like caulking material on beaches and the intertidal zone. The intertidal zone includes large mud flats in the mid-coast because the tidal range is more than 20 feet there. How would we ever get them clean again?

Stringham also says our Canadian oil industry is interested in the Kitimat refinery idea. That is news to me. I have talked to all the companies and there is no interest whatsoever. That is why I am spearheading the project.  It will keep dilbit out of tankers and provide an enormous value-add for B.C.

Canada’s oil industry needs a west coast pipeline. Coastal First Nations, the Yinka Dene First Nations, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace, Smithers, the provincial and federal NDP, the federal Liberals, the provincial and federal Green Party, many blue collar unions and the majority of folks in B.C. are against Northern Gateway’s idea of putting dilbit in tankers.

A refinery is economically viable. Why is it so hard for our oil industry to see that the way forward is to build a green refinery which will cut greenhouse gases by 50 per cent, create thousands of jobs, generate billions of new annual taxes, and gain acceptance for a safe pipeline?

David Black
Kitimat Clean, Black Press
Source -Sooke News

May 8, 2014

Transporting Bitumen is similar to Crude Oil

Continued safe marine and pipeline transport of hydrocarbons is in everybody’s interest so Canadians can realize value for resources and oil producers can continue to deliver jobs and economic benefits. No one wants a spill of any product at any time.

The performance track record over the past 50 years is good, but even still, work is ongoing to improve prevention and ensure producers, transportation companies and spill-responders have the best information available to manage products safely and make the best plans possible for response, containment and clean-up in the event of an incident.

Black's articles incorrectly suggested the Canadian oil industry is not interested in the proposed refinery project and that transporting diluted bitumen is more risky than transporting other types of oil because of its chemical properties.

Fact is, oil producers are seeking increased access to existing and new markets – in Canada, the United States and internationally – to satisfy market demand for increasing Canadian oil production. All options to achieve that goal are worthy of study.

And diluted bitumen – oil sands bitumen diluted with natural gas liquids that allow it to flow – is no more dangerous than other types of crude oil.

Chemically, there’s nothing about diluted bitumen the transportation system cannot be prepared to manage. Whether it moves by pipelines or tankers, diluted bitumen meets all the same specifications and behaves the same as other crude oils.

Oil floats on water if it has an API gravity above water’s 10 degree API gravity. Diluted bitumen has an API gravity of 20-22 degrees. Any type of oil spilled in water, eventually “weathers” and can be driven below the surface by waves or currents. Diluted bitumen behaves the same way.

There have been several scientific studies completed on diluted bitumen. Earlier this year, the federal government released a research study that demonstrated diluted bitumen floats on salt water – even after evaporation and exposure to light.

The study was commissioned by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada as part of the government’s plan to implement a world-class prevention, preparedness and response regime for marine transportation. Results of the study will be used to inform spill responders and help guide more research.

Our industry is focused on responsible development of Canada’s resources. We welcome transparency on our safety and environmental performance, based on sound science.
As producers, we transport oil with care and attention at all times. We expect all transportation providers to deliver safe services in a responsible manner.

Greg Stringham
Vice President, Markets and Oil Sands / Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Calgary