The answer is both yes and no. In reality, bitumen is a solid and is typically transported in the form of a solid-fiber tank. The bitumen itself is also a solid and is typically transported in the form of an oil-based lubricant and may have a thick layer of protective polyurethane in the oil.
Bitumen is made up of oils and other impurities. In general, the oil is about 70-80% saturated, which generally means it will have an oil-water mixture of about 20-40% oil as opposed to pure water as in a regular crude oil, as well as a lot of other impurities including various kinds of minerals and some hydrocarbons.
What is bitumen used for?
Bitumen is used in the oil and gas industry to provide a lubricant for these products. Sometimes, bitumen is also used to lubricate pumps, machinery, vehicles, pipelines and other such things. Some of these products also may use other hydrocarbons and such in addition to bitumen. For example, bitumen is used in some lubricating solvents and is often used in synthetic rubber.
In Canada, the tar sands region in northern Alberta has become a centre for bitumen production that began in the early 1990s and has expanded exponentially since then. In 2012, bitumen production in the Bakken formation alone was equivalent to about 15% of Canada’s oil production.
What is the best way to get to your oil?
When travelling with a crude oil carrier, the most effective means of getting at this crude oil is by a pipeline. There are three major pipeline systems in North America: the Trans-Canada Pipeline system, Canadian National, and the Suncor pipeline.
1. The Trans-Canada Pipeline System (TCTS) in south-central and central Canada is a single line in the northern Plains and Great Lakes region, linking cities, towns and the Alberta oil sands region (Alberta is about 35% bitumen).
Unlike the other two systems listed, the TCTS is not an interurban or interstate system and only runs north to south through the Alberta oil sands, with routes going through B.C. and Saskatchewan and also going into Minnesota and Michigan. The TCTS runs roughly from Montreal or Calgary to Regina, with stops such as Lacolle, Alberta and Grand Forks, ND, and at various points to the east.
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