To the editor:
Refining bitumen in Alberta at strategic locations nearby bitumen mines has numerous employment and environmental benefits. I have commented previously on these benefits as have many others.
Refine it where you mine it might well break the impasse between Alberta and B.C. regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline. A major concern to B.C. is the pipeline expansion to transport roughly 500,000 barrels per day of diluted, unrefined bitumen (dilbit) to American and offshore refineries. We know bitumen is really toxic to the environment and we don’t know much about how to clean it up when spills occur. And spills will occur.
If the bitumen was refined in Alberta then piped to markets, the pipeline volume expansion could be reduced. Refined petroleum products are less toxic than dilbit and we know a lot more about how to deal with spills. Even upgrading bitumen to become a flowable crude (without adding diluents) would be a big step in the right direction. Reduced volume of a more lucrative product would be a financial gain.
Twining the current pipeline to transport familiar petrochemicals could well improve the safety of the current system. The new pipeline would be a backup for needed overhauls of the current ageing pipeline (upwards of 70 years old). And twining would be less expensive than the current massive expansion plan.
Maritime shipping would be reduced as well from one tanker a day to possibly one every two or three days.
A commitment by Canada and Alberta governments and the oil industry to pursue the refine it where you mine it strategy would send a huge positive signal to B.C. that the province’s concerns are being heard and that compromise can be found.