All Oil is Dirty Oil

By B. McPherson



There has been much controversy over the proposed Keystone Pipeline project in the US. Environmentalists rightly point out that the route that would take it through the Nebraska Sand Hills would endanger a precious natural resource. While an enclosed pipeline seems like a safe way to transport crude oil to refineries, the solvents used to dilute the thick substance can corrode the metal and cause leaks. The Yellowstone River suffered such a leak this past summer when an ExxonMobil Pipeline sprung a leak releasing about 40 000 barrels into the water.
Ref: NY Times 

While crude oil or bitumen could be transported by rail tankers, it would be much more expensive than using a pipeline. Currently the US uses about 15 million barrels of oil every day.  Canada is the major supplier of crude oil to the US refineries, supplying 2 324 thousand barrels of crude oil per day in September through existing pipelines, for refining on the Gulf Coast. The demand for petroleum is increasing.
Following are figures showing the daily import figures of crude oil for the top four sources. For more detailed figures go to the home page of the US Energy Information Administration.

                        Sept ’11    Aug’11                Sept’10
CANADA              2,324     2,240     2,157     1,937     1,971  figures are for thousands of barrels per day
SAUDI ARABIA  1,465     1,075     1,180     1,082     1,072       
MEXICO               1,099     1,150     1,113     1,108     1,132
VENEZUELA        759         806         893         919         928
Source: US Energy Information Administration 

The lawmakers in the US are going to have to make some hard decisions about a new pipeline soon. Will a new pipeline be the answer? Can safety measures be taken to minimize leaks? Would the American public be willing to pay much more for their petroleum products to have the crude shipped by rail? The obvious answer is for the public to reduce its demand for oil.

No matter what the decisions made south of the border are, it should be remembered that whatever its source, all oil is dirty oil.

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