No, it was not an "oil spill". The product was a Dilbit blend called, "Surmont Heavy Blend (SHB)".
Dilbit, "Diluted Bitumen" takes the washed raw tar sands bitumen, and adds light hydrocarbons ("Natural Gas Liquids" or "condensate") as a solvent to lower the viscosity so it can flow in a pipeline.
Sometimes they "upgrade" some of the bitumen and create the diluents from the bitumen itself. This is called Synbit, or Syncrude.
For 250 years, "Crude Oil" has referred to a natural product. Where as Dilbit has MANY differences over Crude Oil.
- Dilbit is new. Invented in 1995
- Dilbit is mined differently
- Dilbit is refined differently
- Dilbit has different corrosivity
- Dilbit has a very low net energy returned for energy invested (EROEI)
- Dilbit is regulated and taxed differently than Crude Oil.
I make the analogy to someone who has never seen a horse before, and calls it a Donkey. That's OK! You use the word you know. But then someone explains the dozen ways they are different. Do you keep calling it a donkey?
Dilbit is the same way. OK, it superficially resembles Crude Oil. The industry calls it "Crude Oil", but can we really trust them?
If we use the correct term, DILBIT, people my say, "what the heck is that?", and do some research, and learn about Tar Sands, the Boreal Forest, the Athabasca River, and the MOUNTAIN of sulfur at the Suncor Upgrader in Ft. McMurray AB. However, if we incorrectly call it "crude oil", people might not raise an eyebrow.
Please use the correct terminology. DILBIT IS NOT OIL!!!