Sunday, June 30, 2013
They Sell It But They Supposedly Have Nothing to Do With It.
When you buy Athabasca DilBit you're buying two fuels - a form of synthetic oil and a type of coal. Alberta bitumen contains heavy oil and it contains petroleum coke also known as petcoke.
When buyers refine the bitumen into synthetic oil, they're left with a lot of petcoke, anywhere from 15 to 30% by volume. As the mountain of the stuff building up on the Detroit waterfront from a small volume bitumen refining operation illustrates, you have to do something with it.
Petcoke is sold, at rock bottom prices, to customers willing to burn the dirt cheap, high carbon and high sulphur crud. Even Nova Scotia Power is burning the stuff although it claims it is using state of the art technology that minimizes emissions.
What's really remarkable is how far the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers will go to distance themselves from the petcoke they deliver to their customers.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers claims pet coke "is benign" and "not an oilsands issue."
"It's just carbon, similar to coal or a carbon product that would come out of [oil]," said Greg Stringham, vice-president of market and oilsands at CAPP. "It's found in the oil in the ground originally and then it's just a benign product that's one of the byproducts of that production process.
Benign? No fossil fuel is benign, least of all the high-carbon stuff that just happens to be richly laced with sulphur. There's nothing remotely benign about petcoke.
And to claim it's "not an oilsands issue" is beyond disingenuous. It's part and parcel of the unrefined bitumen they sell and they know damned well it's going to be sold as fossil fuel. They would dearly like not to have to deal with it as an "oilsands issue" but that's not reality.