The tar-sands oil entering the pipeline in Alberta contains a small amount of water. Whether this will cause corrosion of the pipeline is a question that has brought high emotions and little actual study.
"OUTSIDE FORT McMURRAY, Alberta -- Hold a vial of pumped and processed oil to the light here, just before it enters the pipeline that one executive jokingly calls 'the cash register,' and you can see a layer of watery sediment settled at the bottom.
The vial contains diluted bitumen. What happens to it inside pipelines, 0.5 percent sediment content and all, is powering a controversy that spans the continent.
Environmental and safety groups warn that diluted bitumen poses a greater risk of pipeline corrosion and spills than conventional fuel or the synthetic crude also produced from the Canadian oil sands. The oil and gas industry, bolstered by Canadian regulators and policymakers, blasts this claim as hyperbolic fearmongering."