In June of 2013, I believe Dilbit is a word that most people do not know. When we discuss crude oil, we have sweet crude, heavy crude, oil sands, tar sands, and probably some names I have not encountered. The Canadians wanted to refer to the oil they are extracting from the Alberta ???? as oil sands and yet tar sands oil is more descriptive. Tar sands oil is very thick and viscous and is found in many deposits around the world in its natural state. It is very similar to roofing tar, and asphalt and smells much the same. I recently saw a 5 gallon can of roofing compound labeled as bitumen.
Technically speaking the oil is found in bituminous sands. When it is shipped, via pipeline, the bitumen needs to be heated and made flowable by adding petroleum solvents. At this point it is call Dilbit which means diluted bitumen. If it spills in water, it floats temporarily, but once the volatile materials evaporate, the bitumen sinks. Where as most oils float and can be siphoned from the water, bitumen has to be dug up. If bitumen sinks in deep water it would be almost impossible to remove. Even in shallow water it sinks in the silt and mud.
In 2010 the Enbridge dilbit spill in ??? Michigan infiltrated 36 ??? miles of the shallow Kalamazoo River.
Dilbit besides being heated is forced under pressure through the pipelines. When you look at the gash in the Enbridge pipe you can imagine that it took a good bit of pressure to cause the pipe to look as it is.
photo Enbride Pipe