The following letter by New England Petroleum Council executive director John Quinn appeared on Sept. 12 in the Bangor Daily News. The letter dispels several myths about plans for the Portland-Montreal pipeline and the corrosivity of oil sands crudes.
Don’t believe oil pipeline myths
The recent OpEd on oil pipelines (“ The folly of tar sands”, 8/26) is representative of the growing myths about pipeline safety and overblown dangers of crude oils derived from the Canadian oil sands.
The author suggests that it would take legislative action to stop the reversal of flow on the Portland-Montreal line, but the fact is that neither Enbridge nor Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which are not affiliated, have such plans at this time. Enbridge has even filed paperwork with the National Energy Board of Canada to explain that it has abandoned its original proposal that would have allowed oil sands crude to flow into the Portland-Montreal line.
Another concerning point is the assertion that oil sands crude is “gooey and gummy”. When extracted from the ground, bitumen has a consistency like peanut butter. But that’s not what travels through pipe. The bitumen is diluted so that it can flow and has very similar chemical properties as other familiar crudes from places like California and Mexico.
Oil sands crudes are no more corrosive than other crude oils, and crude oil in general is not particularly corrosive. The pipelines that carry them are tested and monitored to ensure safe
operation. Since the U.S. Office of Pipeline Safety began keeping detailed statistics, it has not identified a single corrosion-related pipeline release from pipelines carrying diluted bitumen.
Pipelines remain a safe and reliable mode of transportation for vital energy resources, and your readers will be much better prepared if they first separate myths from the facts.