OTTAWA — In a Five Things item June 17 about the Trans Mountain expansion, The Canadian Press described diluted bitumen — a chemically modified form of the primary resource from Alberta’s oilsands — as being more expensive to produce than conventional crude oil. It also said bitumen must be mined, rather than pumped out of oil wells, and that Asia lacks refineries that are capable of handling bitumen.
The piece should have noted that oilsands proponents argue production costs have declined in recent years, and that so-called “in-situ” production — using steam injected underground to allow the product to be pumped to the surface — now generates more than half of the output. It also should have acknowledged that a number of refiners in Asia have new facilities designed to handle heavy and sour grades of crude oil, which is how diluted bitumen is classified.
The item also described the expansion as being capable of carrying 590,000 barrels per day of bitumen; in fact, the additional capacity is 540,000 barrels per day, which is expected to create 50,000 barrels of additional capacity on the original line.
The Canadian Press