One company is proposing a game-changer for the way Alberta transports oil.
Pacific Future Energy wants to build a refinery on the West Coast by 2021 that would handle only a special type of bitumen. It’s called neatbit and it’s a type of oil shipped by rail in specially designed cars.
Speaking to 630CHED’s Brenton Driedger, Markham Hislop with American Energy News says train derailments happen, but this is far safer than a pipeline.
“Instead of the dilbit pouring out and onto the environment or into the water, as soon as that neatbit hits the air it actually congeals and plugs the crack,” says Hislop.
“And in the off chance that the accident is severe and somehow some of the neatbit gets out of the car, you just bring in a backhoe and gravel truck and just shovel it into the truck.”
Hislop says the West Coast refinery would need to have a complementary plant near Edmonton to ready the product.
“That plant would strip out the diluent and turn the product back into this sort of gooey, peanut butter type of consistency and pump it into specially heated rail cars and ship it by rail over to the coast.”
Alternatively, it could open up other markets as well.
“If you can ship 216,000 barrels a day of this neatbit by rail to the coast, well, you can ship a lot more to the coast and you can ship it to the American markets as well, primarily the Texas Gulf Coast which is set up to refine about 2.7 million barrels a day.”
Hislop thinks Americans hesitant to approve Keystone XL will be happy with rail transport of neatbit.