This week, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) added to the growing body of research dispelling unsubstantiated claims that diluted bitumen is more corrosive or more risky to transport than any other type of crude oil. The report was commissioned by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“The public has been bombarded with misinformation about the oil that will go through the Keystone XL Pipeline, but this latest study by the highly credible National Academy of Sciences has confirmed that oil is oil and the pipelines we build will safely move different blends — as we have been doing for decades,” says Vern Meier, TransCanada’s vice-president, pipeline safety and compliance.
TransCanada has always maintained that diluted bitumen is and always has been safe to transport. The United States has been safely importing increasing amounts of diluted bitumen from Canada for more than 40 years. We are glad to see that the erroneous claims from certain groups can be put to rest and we can allow the science to speak for itself.
Some of the important findings from the NAS study include:
- No evidence of causes of pipeline failure unique to the transportation of diluted bitumen
- No evidence of chemical or physical properties of diluted bitumen that are outside the range of other crude oils
- No evidence that any aspects of the transportation of diluted bitumen by transmission pipeline would cause releases more likely than the transportation of other crude oils
- The dilution process needed to help these heavy oils flow yield a stable and fully mixed product for shipping by pipeline with density and viscosity levels in the range of other crude oils transported by pipeline in the United States
- No evidence of unique or extreme properties that make diluted bitumen shipments more likely to cause internal corrosion or erosion
The NAS report is the latest in a series of reports investigating the characteristics of oil-sands-derived crudes and pipeline safety. Studies completed by Batelle Memorial, Penspen Integrity, the University of Calgary, Natural Resources Canada, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have also concluded that diluted bitumen behaves the same way as other crude oil in pipelines and is just as safe to transport as other conventional forms of oil.
The NAS findings once again confirm that diluted bitumen is as safe to transport as any other crude oil in the country. Keystone XL will just be the safest and the most technologically advanced pipeline to ever carry it.
“The public needs to have confidence in what our industry does and the steps that companies like TransCanada take to make sure that the products we transport are handled carefully and safely, and this latest study shows that we are,” Meier adds. “We make significant investments to make sure our energy infrastructure network is operating as safely as possible. In 2012 alone, TransCanada invested more than $1 billion in pipeline integrity and proactive inspection and maintenance programs to protect our pipelines and energy facilities and we plan to spend an additional $1.2 billion this year.”
As the Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency experts have shown, U.S. refineries will continue to import 3.5 to 7.5 million barrels of oil each day through 2035. A safe, secure and reliable supply of oil is needed to heat American homes, power industry and start more than 250 million vehicles every morning. TransCanada’s job is to build and operate infrastructure that will continue to get that oil to our customers safely and reliably.