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Ecological Impacts of Dilbit Spills

Jessica Winter and Bob Haddad, of OR&R's Assessment and Restoration Division, presented their paper entitled "Ecological Impacts of Dilbit Spills: Considerations for Natural Resource Damage Assessment" at Environment Canada's Arctic and Marine Oil Spill Program conference last week.

The presentation was part of a special session on diluted bitumen (dilbit) spills, which was well-attended and included presentations from government, industry, and consulting on this active area of research. The paper was published in the conference proceedings.

Tar sands, also referred to as oil sands, are a combination of clay, sand, water, and heavy black viscous oil called bitumen. They can be extracted and processed to separate the bitumen, which is upgraded to synthetic crude oil and refined to make asphalt, gasoline, and jet fuel.

Because of its thick consistency (which resembles peanut butter), bitumen, unlike most conventional crude oils, must be diluted with a cocktail of other petroleum compounds before it is able to flow through pumps and tanks or pipelines for transport. This thinner, more fluid product is called diluted bitumen or dilbit.

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:54pm PST