Misinformation Regarding Canadian Crude Oil

Bloggers and pundits don’t understand production rates, crude oil, refineries and transportation as exhibited recently by Gateway Pundit referring to this Breitbart article http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/06/27/Goodbye-Keystone-XL-Hello-Enbridge-Northern-Gateway

Here is a step by step description as to why these articles are made from whole cloth.

1.  Northern Gateway Pipeline was proposed almost a decade ago, BEFORE Keystone XL was.  The problem was resistance from “1st Nations” activists which caused delays in the permitting process.

2.  Canada anticipates a steep increase in very heavy crude oil production over the next decade from horizontal drilling and steam injection of “tar sands” which are too deep to strip mine.  This produces a crude oil of around 10 API gravity, as opposed to Syncrude which is from strip mined and upgraded crude with an API gravity of around 40.  For such very heavy crude see La Brea Tar Pits.  That is about what you have.

3.  Traditionally, because of the heavy nature of crude oil produced in California the refineries there have long been configured to process very heavy crude oil.  Heck in Bakersfield refineries generally received 8 to 10 API crude.  You can kick that stuff at room temperature, like a blob of black wax shoe polish.

4.  California is a natural destination for Canadian heavy crude blends.

5.  Beginning in the early 1980’s development of a profit center for sales of petroleum coke and the nearby source of very heavy Venezuelan crude at a steep discount caused about a dozen refineries in Texas and Louisiana to expand their petroleum coke production.  It went from being a nuisance by product when squeezing a little more gasoline and diesel out of the bottom of the barrel to worth $150 per ton in just one year.  It has a much higher BTU value than coal and was used heavily by the cement industry in Europe to convert lime into cement as fuel for long (300 or so feet long) rotary kilns.  I personally was involved in 100,000 tons per month being shipped from Lake Charles, LA to Livorno Italy working with Otto Wolff America.  In the 1990’s with the new emissions regulations and forced use of low sulfur (and low BTU) coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, it was used to blend with such coal to raise the BTU value.

6.  Over the last decades, billions of dollars have been spent in capital improvements to enable refiners in the Midwest to use very heavy Canadian crude blends, steeply discounted to other crude oil.

7.  Because of pipelines being built and converted, we have cut import of Venezuelan crude by 75% via replacement with Canadian crude.  Another 600,000 BPD pipeline, Flanagan South will be fully operational this next quarter bringing it to the Gulf Coast.    There are several other paths to get Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast, none as direct as Keystone XL, but they do exist already.

8.  Very little crude oil is shipped to the U.S. from Canada via tankcar.  What tankcars offer is flexibility but that is a 30 day round trip and they are in very short supply.  Canadian crude doesn’t have all those light ends, that is Bakken crude, which is similar in chemical composition to North Sea Brent which has been a real headache for ocean going tankers.

9.  Several pipelines have been proposed to take away Bakken crude from North Dakota.  The pipeline companies did not receive enough interest from producers so they were cancelled.   They could not pay for themselves.

10.  What Canada needs is for the Northern Gateway to be built, Keystone XL to be built, and proposed pipeline by Kinder Morgan to Canada’s west coast to be built and existing pipelines to the U.S. to be expanded and a pipeline to the Canada’s east coast to be built.  All of these for export.  We only need about 700,000 more BPD of Canadian crude to kick Venezuela to the curb.

I wish these folks would actually have a clue as to what they are writing about before they begin typing.