At full capacity, the KXL pipeline will carry (see table p. 5) 830,000 barrels of sludge per day.
That is 9.6 barrels per second, which is 1527.3 liters. or 1.52 cubic meters.
The pipeline is 24 inches in diameter. Or 452.39 square inches. (This assumes 24 inches is the interior diameter. This calculation gets even nastier if it’s exterior diameter.) Or 0.2919 square meters.
This means that every second, a slug of fluid that is .29 square meters in cross section and 1.52 cubic meters in volume passes by, so that means the length is 1.52/.29 = 5.24 meters, so it is pumped at 18.86 kilometers per hour or 11.7 miles per hour. Not unbelievably fast, but notice that is an average that has to be maintained over the entire pipeline to attain full capacity.
I wonder how long it takes to shut down a two foot pipe of sludge going twelve miles an hour. The recent experience with a smaller pipeline running through Arkansas is hardly reassuring.
I had thought that the greenhouse emissions and the local environmental damage in Alberta were the real issue with this project, and that the environmental risks along the route were secondary. I don’t think that any more. This project is just a woefully stupid idea everywhere from the source to the destination.
If Alberta tar sands are profitable, that means the market is set up wrong and we should fix it. There should be no incentive for this kind of project.
(image is the Alaska pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, taken by Luca Galuzzi shared under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 Generic via Wikipedia.)