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View Diary: What Exactly is in Dilbit? It is a Secret. (242 comments)

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  •  presumably ... but we shouldn't have to presume (2+ / 0-)
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    elwior, Agathena

    we should know.

    the diluent story is an interesting one, actually.

    My understanding is they use natural gas liquids (alkanes heavier than propane I think that means) to dilute the bitumen to the point where it can flow.

    but Alberta does not produce enough NGL, so they import from the US.

    then when the mixture gets to the refinery, they take the NGLs out and re-use them for diluting.

    it would be good to hear from someone with good knowledge of how this brave new system really works.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 12:23:07 PM PDT

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    •  You said: (1+ / 0-)
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      then when the mixture gets to the refinery, they take the NGLs out and re-use them for diluting
      While the crude fractions that are natural gas liquids get separate out by boiling point at petroleum refineries, all such hydrocarbons are sold for conventional refinery consumers.

      Petroleum refineries receiving tar sands crude diluted with natural gas liquids do not send the hydrocarbons separated from petroleum liquids back to the tar sands for any kind of re-use as a diluent.

      •  you may be right - not sure (2+ / 0-)
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        Agathena, elwior

        I am not an expert. Should have said natural gas "condensate," rather than "liquids." Though maybe it's the same stuff

        But check out this article:

        It’s a Kinder Magic - The Eagle Ford Canada Diluent Trail

        The “diluent trade” is a growing business for US Gulf Coast producers and refiners. The business consists of sourcing condensates in the Gulf Coast region and shipping them to Western Canada by pipeline. In Canada the condensate is mixed with heavy tar sands “bitumen” to make a “dilbit” crude light enough to flow back to the US (or Eastern Canada) in a pipeline (see It’s a Bitumen Oil – Does it go Too Far?). Canadian demand for condensate as diluent is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. The chart below is based on Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) estimates published in 2011 for condensate/diluent demand in Canada. Total Canadian demand (blue line) is forecast to expand from 300 Mb/d in 2012 to 670 Mb/d by 2020 . At the same time, Canadian condensate production (red shaded area) is only about 150 Mb/d leaving a growing requirement for imports (green line).

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 01:29:59 PM PDT

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    •  I don't think AB imports NG from the US, because (2+ / 0-)
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      mightymouse, elwior

      BC next door has plenty.

      BTW industry in AB uses up 81% of its natural gas supply.

      •  I believe they do import - (2+ / 0-)
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        Agathena, elwior

        check out the article I linked to in the above post-

        Demand for imports of condensate to use as a diluent for blending with heavy Canadian bitumen crude is expected to increase from 200 Mb/d in 2013 to over 500 Mb/d by 2020 according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute. This is a very big deal.  Last week we described the route that Plains All American developed to ship condensate from the Eagle Ford to Western Canada. Today we describe similar plans being developed by Kinder Morgan.

        The last episode of our Gulf Coast crude oil terminals series covered the Plains All American St. James, LA terminal (see Plains Trains and Diluent Deals). In particular we described the way that Plains is using St. James as a staging post to send condensate from the South Texas Eagle Ford basin as diluent to Western Canada via the Capline pipeline to Chicago and the Enbridge Southern Lights system to Edmonton. Having covered Plains’ condensate plans we felt it appropriate to update you with details of a similar project planned by Kinder Morgan (KM) in this blog. In the next and final episode in this series we will round out the Gulf Coast crude terminals with a look at yet-to-be-built projects and a summary of what we covered so far.

        it would be good to have a better understanding of this business. seems crazy in so many ways.

        many thanks for the diary btw.

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 01:32:56 PM PDT

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