The following letter was signed and submitted by OSFC Executive Director Cindy Schild in response to a recent article in the Dallas Observer on Canada’s oil sands development and the Keystone XL pipeline.
To the Editor of the Dallas Observer:
There are numerous reasons why oil derived from the Canadian oil sands and transported through the Keystone XL will help to bring energy independence to North America, rather than the “calamity” characterized through several misleading statements in your recent feature story (“There Will be Tar Sands,” 1/3).
Your article falsely suggests that high pressures and temperatures required to transport bitumen through pipelines, and specifically through the Keystone XL, present more danger to the environment. Diluted bitumen is transported at comparable pipeline pressures as other heavy crude oils and is not heated for transportation in pipelines above the temperature of other crudes. Why would an operator invest in a capital-intensive asset that isn’t properly engineered to handle what will run through it?
It is also incorrect to say that no study has gone into the potential corrosive properties of oil sands crudes. Data from the U.S. Transportation Department finds that there were no instances of oil leaks caused by internal corrosion of pipelines carrying diluted bitumen from 2002-2011. Canadian research group Alberta Innovates has studied this topic extensively and has found that compounds in oil sands crudes are too stable to be corrosive under required transportation temperatures. ASTM International agrees, finding in November 2012 that bitumen-derived crude oil is no more corrosive in transmission pipelines than other crudes.
With the Keystone XL, the United States could move to replace almost 40 percent of our imports from the Persian Gulf, replacing them with safer and more reliable resources from Canada. Such measured benefits of the oil sands are what will point us in the right direction for our nation’s energy future.
Executive Director, Oil Sands Fact Check
Senior Manager, Downstream, American Petroleum Institute