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Province reaffirms Trans Mountain pipeline must meet five conditions — 2 Comments

  1. Kinder Morgan can’t control federal regulations and inter-provincial regulations. At least two of these conditions are items they have no authority or control over.

  2. Not sure if people are aware about the nature of the product that Kinder Morgen wish to transport through the proposed pipeline, so I thought I’d throw in my understanding of the product and one notable characteristic.

    The product is DILuted BITumen, often referred to as ‘Dilbit’. Some media reports and even the BC government tend to refer to the product as ‘heavy oil’ which I feel is incorrect when applying the term to Dilbit. Dilbit is Ultra Heavy oil that has been diluted to mimic Heavy oil.
    In basic terms bitumen (as extracted from the tarsands in Alberta) will barely flow in a pipeline (it has a consistency similar to peanut butter) so a diluent is added to make the product more fluid. Generally you end up with 70% Bitumen and 30% diluents.

    ‘On water’ conventional oil spill recovery techniques rely on the fact that oil floats on water and therefore floating oil recover booms can be deployed to contain the spill and surface recovery techniques can used to recover the spill. Dilbit may initially float on water, but will lose that quality as the diluents dissolve or evaporate leaving heavier bitumen which is more dense that both seawater and fresh water and therefore the bulk of it has has a tendency to sink. This characteristic neutralises the effectiveness of standard ‘oil floating on water’ recovery techniques.

    Any entity cleaning up a Dilbit spill on water might well declare that ‘all oil has been recovered from the surface’ but’s only part of the story. It may well be that all floating dilbit may have been recovered, but much of it may have slipped silently below the surface to the bottom. Out of sight out of mind?
    Its almost impossible to clean up Dilbit from the seabed/river bed/lake bed without massive dredging which could take years and will most likely never be fully effective. The impact on marine life would be catastrophic in the immediate area of the spill.

    I suspect, when dealing with dilbit, this is why Kinder Morgen is unable to meet one particular Provincial requirement (extract below);

    ‘World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments;’

    I would suggest that there is no world-leading oil response ‘system’ available for cleaning up a product such as Dilbit.