Transportation of crude oil in the Arctic presents unique problems which are not easily handled by the usual hot oil pipelines plus the very large tankers operating in restricted coastal waters. The work described here presents a solution which; would allow completely buried, cold operating pipelines along with tankers carrying an easily dispersible crude oil emulsion which would not form massive oil slicks on coastal waters in the event of an accident.

Sadlerochit crude oil emulsions were prepared in 10% NaCl brines using an especially developed procedure based on an ultrasonic emulsifier. The oil concentration was varied from 10% to 90% (vol.) with the higher concentration ones being HIPR (high-intemal-phase ratio) O/W emulsions. The lower concentrations were Newtonian fluids and the higher concentration ones pseudoplastics. A new kind of variable head rheometer was developed to measure the shear stress—shear rate characteristics at various low as well as ambient temperatures.

The proposed transportation system would require continuous preparation of say 80% oil in 10% NaCl brine O/W emulsions, cooling them to say 20°F and pumping them in completely buried pipelines. Use of the low temperatures would prevent any thawing of the permafrost and for a new pipeline would be considerably less expensive to construct than hot oil line built on supports. At the pipeline terminal, the HIPR emulsion wold be run onto ordinary tankers and transported to refinery markets in temperate climates, where the emulsions would be broken in heater-treaters.

In the event of a tanker accident such as the Exxon Valdez, the O/W emulsion would be fully dispersed in the ocean without formation of a surface slick and it would then be consumed by microorganisms naturally found in the ocean.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.