Map shows area of computer models simulating crude oil spills that could result from existing tanker traffic.

Gaps wide in oil spill scenarios

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent

VICTORIA – The B.C. environment ministry has released its promised study of the current state of crude oil spill response capability, tracking the growing tonnage of petroleum shipping along the West Coast and estimating response time and effectiveness if oil was to spill at sea.

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent for Alaska crude, with another quarter evaporating.

The study was commissioned to back up Premier Christy Clark’s conditions for B.C.’s approval of expanded heavy oil shipments, either from twinning the TransMountain pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby, or the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project across northern B.C. to a new tanker port at Kitimat.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the study shows the need to increase response capability before the B.C. government would consider increased oil shipments.

“While we respect federal jurisdiction over marine spills, we must ensure B.C.’s interests are being met, and that means adding more resources to protect our coast,” Polak said.

The three-volume report also details the huge and growing traffic that exists now.

Shipping data show a 17 per cent increase in marine traffic volume from 2011 to 2012. An estimated 110 million cubic metres of petroleum products per year are shipped, about a third of which is crude-like bunker oil carried as fuel on ships of all kinds. The biggest tanker cargo is 38 million cubic metres of mostly Alaska crude a year.

The study includes recovery estimates for seven oil spill scenarios, six of which assumed a spill of Alaska North Slope crude that has been shipped by tankers down the B.C. coast to U.S. refineries since the 1970s. Two scenarios involve an Alaska crude spill in Dixon Entrance, with four per cent recovery in summer an three per cent in winter.

One scenario examines a summer-time spill of diluted bitumen in the Juan de Fuca Strait, with response from Canadian and U.S. ships and oil recovery equipment. It estimated 31 per cent oil recovery after five days, in summer conditions with daylight-only operations.

Tanker shipments from Kinder Morgan Canada’s Burnaby terminal hit a high of 69 in 2010. some of which were diluted bitumen. The expansion would mean 300 tankers a year in and out of Vancouver harbour.

The federal government has launched its own research project to model the drift and behaviour of a bitumen spill in the ocean around Kitimat, and funded marine weather forecasting to facilitate shipping.


Just Posted

Giants draw first blood in WHL playoff series vs. Victoria

Home ice advantage non-existent for Royals against arch-rival Vancouver

Oak Bay cyclists have new resource to aid in health and fitness

Bike Fix Station installed at Rec Centre thanks to Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Elizabeth May arrested at Kinder Morgan protest

Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, speaks out against pipeline

Esquimalt High robotics students engineer their way to Texas

Rookie team qualifies for FIRST World Championship after breathing life into armed robot Spike

Large Kinder Morgan pipeline protest at Victoria MP office

Dozens gathered out front of Murray Rankin’s constituency office Friday to protest Trans Mountain pipeline

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 23, 2018

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Vancouver Island pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions we received from around the region

MLA Report: Lowering the voting age to 16 in BC

By Andrew Weaver On March 13, I introduced for a third time… Continue reading

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

The new healthcare facility averaged a 110 per cent patient volume between October and February

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Most Read