150520_myth busting diluted bitumen

The Trans Mountain Pipeline has been safely transporting diluted bitumen for more than 30 years and conventional crude for more than 60 years, yet there are still many misconceptions about this type of product. Here are the top three myths and facts about one of the many products we ship through our pipeline:

Myth: Diluted bitumen sinks.

Fact: Products carried in the Trans Mountain system must meet criteria for density (max 0.94) and viscosity (350 cst). That maximum density of 0.94 means that diluted bitumen is less dense than fresh water (density 1.00) and seawater (density 1.03). In fact, diluted bitumen (or dilbit) has the same spill-recovery characteristics as conventional heavy oil. More information on diluted bitumen can be found here.

Myth: Released diluted bitumen reacts differently than conventional crude oil.

Fact: All hydrocarbons, if released into water, begin a weathering process, which over a period of time may cause an increase to the product’s density and viscosity. As part of our Facilities Application, Trans Mountain performed a 10-day oil testing study that was observed by government agencies to quantify how diluted bitumen reacts over time in water under various conditions.  Additionally, as part of this study, a series of tests were conducted to determine the efficiency of various types of oil spill response equipment under similar conditions. More information can be found in this report, A Study of Fate and Behaviour of Diluted Bitumen on Oils on Marine Waters.

Myth: Diluted bitumen is more corrosive than other products.

Fact: Transporting diluted bitumen is as safe as transporting other types of crude oil and it does not pose a greater risk of corrosion than pipelines carrying other types of petroleum products. The only significant difference between diluted bitumen and conventional crude is that diluted bitumen carries diluent. Neither the properties of diluent or bitumen carry any characteristics that would cause more corrosion. See this fact sheet for more information.