Addressing the corrosion myth

Dilbit well understood: Every batch of crude oil entering TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline is tested to ensure it meets strict specifications before it is transported to markets in the United States.

Dilbit well understood: Every batch of crude oil entering TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline is tested to ensure it meets strict specifications before being transported to the United States.

New research examining the properties of diluted bitumen (dilbit) is providing further proof that this form of crude oil is not more corrosive than conventional crudes – dispelling the myth that critics of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline project have been spreading regarding the product.

A new report by Penspen Integrity, a division of the UK-based Penspen Limited, examined 40 studies addressing the behaviour of diluted bitumen and conventional crude. In these studies, which spanned over 40 years, the research concluded that diluted bitumen is no more corrosive when compared to conventional crude oil. The report commissioned by the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) was released on February 25, 2013.

“For several years, Keystone XL opponents have claimed that bitumen-derived crude oil from the oil sands is more corrosive in transmission pipelines than conventional crudes,” said Corey Goulet, Vice President, Keystone Pipeline Projects. “It is good to see that their misleading comments have been debunked through science, and a thorough review of the technical literature on-hand.”

The Penspen Integrity report also showed that tests were carried out using internationally recognized standards, which found that small differences in some components of the product did not increase the chances of corrosion developing in oil transmission pipelines.

In addition, monitoring and preventative maintenance programs used by transmission pipeline operators on conventional crude oil pipelines were equally as effective on pipelines containing diluted bitumen.

CEPA President and CEO Brenda Kenny said the results of the report are no surprise to the pipeline industry.

“We have always known, based on scientific facts and our pipelines’ operational histories, that diluted bitumen is no more corrosive than conventional crude,” she said. “Now, this manufactured myth can stop and Canadians can be further assured that our pipelines are safe regardless of the type of product they carry.

“It is important to have scientific evidence in front of Canadians, so they can make their own informed decisions, and not rely on misinformation.”

This is the second study released in several months to dispel the falsehoods spread on the effects of diluted bitumen.

In November, 2012, similar results from tests conducted by ASTM International also determined that corrosivity of oil sands-derived crudes is no different than that of other crudes.

Dennis Lanthier is a writer with TransCanada’s internal communications group.