Scientists around the world agree: Diluted bitumen is not more corrosive

The science is settled.

Is Diluted Bitumen more corrosive than conventional crude oil?

A few weeks ago, a study conducted by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reported that the transportation of diluted bitumen is no more corrosive than conventional crude.

“The science is settled,” said Joe Oliver, Canada’s minister of natural resources in a news release about the study. “The myth that oil sands crude is more corrosive has been consistently proven false by objective research.”

NAS is a society of distinguished scholars tasked with providing independent advice south of the border on science and technology. Its report joins a long list of studies confirming what over 25 years of transporting bitumen by pipeline has already taught industry experts – there is no increase in pipeline corrosion from the transportation of diluted bitumen compared to conventional crude.

“This independent study by the internationally recognized National Academy of Sciences and sponsored by the US Transportation Department builds on extensive research conducted by Natural Resources Canada and others,” said Mr. Oliver.

See for yourself – here are two scientific reports that came to the same conclusion as NAS:

A bit about bitumen:

Bitumen (PDF) is a thick crude found in areas like Alberta’s oil sands. Due to its molasses-like viscosity, bitumen is diluted in order to flow through a pipeline.

The NAS study found that “diluted bitumen has physical and chemical properties within the range of other crude oils and that no aspect of its transportation by pipeline would make it more likely than other crude oils to cause an accidental release.”

These scientific findings debunk myths some industry critics have cited.

“It is important to have scientific evidence in front of Canadians, so they can make their own informed decisions and not rely on misinformation,” said Brenda Kenny, CEPA’s former president and CEO. “Misinformation about our industry only perpetuates fear and we know that crude oil, including diluted bitumen has been transported safely by our members for decades.”

What do the results mean in the pipeline industry?

Whether a pipeline is transporting diluted bitumen, conventional crude or natural gas, transmission pipeline companies work hard to rigorously maintain and monitor pipelines for signs of corrosion on the inside and outside of pipes, and they are continuously working to find new and better ways to make pipelines even safer.

In the event of a leak, CEPA’s member companies have emergency response plans (PDF) in place to contain the leak and reduce risk to the public and the environment. These plans are regularly reviewed and updated. The health and safety of the public is always their number one priority.

Learn more about NAS’s study on pipeline transportation of diluted bitumen by reading CEPA’s news release or by reading NAS’s news release and full report.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.