Did you know that Line 9, a 38 year-old pipeline connecting Sarnia and Montreal, may be the principal means for the international exploitation of tar sands oil?
The owner of Line 9 (Enbridge) applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) for reversal of Line 9 as a means of getting tar sands oil (aka bitumen or, when transported by pipeline, diluted bitumen or dilbit) to an ocean port. The NEB has already approved reversal of part of the western half of Line 9. Further NEB hearings into the balance of the line are scheduled for October 15-16 (Montreal) and October 17 (Toronto).
The problem is that Line 9 was originally built for the transport conventional oil from Montreal to the Sarnia petrochemical complex. The consequences of a spill of dilbit are far more serious than a spill of conventional oil. The 2011 disastrous spill of dilbit in Kalamazoo, Michigan was from a more recently constructed Enbridge pipeline that will feed into Line 9.
As Montreal refineries do not have the capacity and/or ability to refine dilbit, Enbridge may re-ship the dilbit to “tidewater” via the Quebec – Maine (Portland) pipeline. From Portland the dilbit can be transported by oil tanker for refining elsewhere.