Do we really need oil?
We tend to think of oil as something we need only to fuel cars or planes, but we need oil for many other things. In fact, hundreds of everyday products are made from crude oil, including cosmetics, carpets, pantyhose, electronics and plastics, but also items essential to our health and well-being, such as heart valves, Aspirin, prescription glasses, soap and toothpaste. What do skis, a life jacket, a refrigerator, a pillow and soft contact lenses have in common? They are all based on petroleum, so it’s no wonder that Canadians consume about 2.3 million barrels of oil every day.
What is crude oil?
Crude oil is a fossil fuel or hydrocarbon made primarily of hydrogen and carbon. Depending on sulphur content, crude oil ranges from light to heavy and from sweet to sour. Energy East will move a variety of crude types, including conventional crude oil, diluted bitumen and synthetic crude oil.
What is bitumen? Is it corrosive to pipelines?
Found in Alberta’s oil sands, among other places, bitumen is a raw material that must be either upgraded to a synthetic specification, similar to West Texas light crude to become a synthetic crude oil or blended with light petroleum products, such as gasoline, to become diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen is physically and chemically indistinguishable from other heavy crude oils.
How is bitumen extracted?
There are two ways. The first, called “surface mining,” involves using large trucks and shovels to scrape up oil collected in the sand. The second, called “in-situ production”, involves injecting steam into the ground that heats up the bitumen, combines it with water and forces it to the surface where it can be separated from the water.
What is pipeline oil used for?
About 75 per cent of Canada’s crude oil is processed into transportation fuel. The oil transported by Energy East will be used to create gasoline, jet fuel and countless other petroleum-based products that millions of Canadians rely on every day – from the electronic device you are reading on right now to clothing, cosmetics, prescription glasses, bike helmets and even bubble gum.
What are pipelines made of?Pipelines are made of long, flat sheets of high-strength steel that are shaped into tubes and welded together. The sections converted from existing gas pipeline are 1,067 millimetres in diameter and the new pipeline sections of Energy East will be 1,067 millimetres in diameter.
How are pipeline leaks prevented and detected?
A fundamental principle for TransCanada is the protection of the public and the environment from the effects of a spill. Safety drives our decisions – every single day. We invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year to maintain the integrity of our pipelines and ensure our 70,000-km network across North America functions as it is intended to.
Energy East Pipeline will use state-of-the-art technology, including heavier walled pipe under large bodies of water, high-performance coatings, and erosion protection and drainage controls. Shut-off valves will be installed at pump stations and at regular intervals along the pipeline between pump stations. Satellite technology will send information from multiple data points to our monitoring centre every five seconds. Should a drop in pressure happen, the shut-off valves would be remotely closed within minutes, shutting down the pipeline.
We will carry out regular “in-line” inspections, in which an instrumented device is run through the pipeline to create a map of pipeline wall-thickness and integrity. These are just a few of the safety measures we will implement. Along with these, the Energy East team will set up comprehensive Emergency Response Plans (ERP) that involve the placement of specialized equipment and trained field crews along the entire route, as well as regular training exercises.
What are pump stations?Pipelines such as Energy East use a series of pump stations that essentially “push” the oil along the pipeline. These pumps turn on and off automatically, reacting to fluctuations in the oil flow. Pump stations are monitored using sophisticated control systems that continuously monitor line pressure, valves, temperatures, flows and other data.
- Regulatory Filing