October 17, 2014

Return of the Bitumen Bubble

The Author discusses the Bitumen Bubble in waiting if the curdue oil price falls below USD 80.

Just when you think you're finding your way out of the woods, there's that damned Bitumen Bubble again.
This time, it's crude oil prices that are declining -- or, as they say in journalese, the official language of the Internet, "plummeting."

This is handy for conservatives once they're elected and want to cut the crap out of public services they promised to protect, but not so good in the lead-up to an election during the phase when conservative governments of all stripes go into a tax-and-spend-liberal-spree mode and shower dollars on electors.
The special problem facing newly selected Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice out here on the western edge of the Great Aspen Parklands is that his principal opponent in the upcoming Oct. 27 mini-election, in which he hopes to get his own place in the Legislature and a couple more for his two unelected cabinet members, is another conservative party.

Before October 27 and certainly before the next general election, the Wildrose Party under would-be premier Danielle Smith will scream if the budget isn't balanced, and large numbers of cherry-picking voters will grow surly and disagreeable if it is, leastways if that means their particular enthusiasms aren't fully funded.
Imagine how much easier things would be for Prentice's PCs if the official Opposition party were the NDP!

Well, New Democrats will be working on that this weekend in Edmonton, but in the meantime the premier is just going to have to figure out a way to live with the cranky deficit scolds from the Wildrose opposition who don't have the disadvantage of having to actually run the place at the same time as they're trying to live down fired premier Alison Redford’s gruesome reputation.

It's always astonishing to me that conservative politicians -- who supposedly have the inside track on thinking like business people -- can’t figure out that commodity prices are cyclical. In other words, this week's oil-prices-are-too-low crisis can turn overnight in to an oil-prices-are-too-high crisis, and Prentice most certainly hopes it does.

Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll by ThinkHQ Public Affairs suggests Prentice's PCs are enjoying a bit of a honeymoon bounce -- although not necessarily where they need it the most for the four upcoming by-elections, three of which are in Calgary and one here in Edmonton.

ThinkHQ President Marc Henry's take Tuesday on these numbers was that "Tory fortunes have turned sharply positive" and, moreover, "the momentum shift is in the Tories' favour."

ThreeHundredEight.com author Eric Grenier's analysis of the same numbers yesterday, however, was that while the poll shows the Prentice PCs are closer to the Wildrose popularity numbers than they've been for a while, the Wildrose is doing well enough in Calgary it will be hard for the government to win all four seats.
So, from the PC perspective, this close to four crucial and highly symbolic by-elections was probably not the right moment for the media to start chanting gloom and doom about oil prices at the shocking thought of oil descending to a mere $82 per barrel.

Meanwhile, also yesterday, without any fanfare whatsoever, the government quietly issued a proclamation repealing the Redford Government's draconian Bill 46. That law -- technically known as the Public Service Salary Restraint Act -- would have enabled the government to order the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees back to work with a truly crappy contract had not the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench intervened last February and granted the union an injunction blocking the law's application.

The court's scathing ruling -- which excoriated the Redford government for bargaining in bad faith and other labour relations sins -- blew the government's entire strategy for dealing with its public service unions to smithereens.

In a way, the repeal of Bill 46 is meaningless -- a negotiated deal with AUPE after the injunction was issued having effectively rendered it moot.

Nevertheless, it can hardly have been unintended that one of the few remaining relics of Redford's bizarre anti-labour legislative agenda was tossed over the side the day before AUPE’s 38th annual convention was scheduled to start. That meeting will commence at 9:00 this morning with 800 or so AUPE members belting out Solidarity Forever.

Prentice's hope, it is said here, must have been that the symbolism of this will remind unionized public employees of the dangers of voting for an even more conservative party than the PCs.

However, still remaining on the law books, sort of, is the odious Bill 45 -- the Public Sector Services Continuation Act, which effectively banned free speech by all Albertans if they happened to feel like advocating a public service strike.

This bill was given Royal Assent on the same day as Bill 46 -- December 11, 2013, another December day that shall live in infamy -- but was never proclaimed by the chicken-hearted Redford Tories, presumably to make it harder for the courts to get their hands on its self-evidently unconstitutional restrictions on free expression.

With Bill 46 on the floor where it belongs, one hopes Prentice will soon drop his party's other remaining legislative shoe as well.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

By David J. Climenhaga

djclimenhaga's picture 
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

October 15, 2014

Recycling of Roof Bitumen

The Dutch Roofing Association (NDA) is partnering with Roof2Roof to recycle existing bitumen roofs into new roof shingles. This collaboration gives this recycling niche 'national momentum', the organisations state. 
Roof2Roof organises and facilitates the recycling of bitumen roofing in the Netherlands according to a cradle-to-cradle philosophy. 

'We have developed a new method for recycling bitumen waste and strive to realise recycling on the most sustainable level,' says founder Martin Smit. The recyclate is ultimately used to replace virgin resources in the manufacture of new roofing products. 

The first joint project has been launched in the historic town of Varsseveld in Gelderland and is hailed as 'the first step towards a single goal - zero waste'. 

The Dutch recycler claims it has recycled up to 45 tonnes of bitumen to date, said to equate to the carbon dioxide emissions of a car travelling 238 500 km. 

October 11, 2014

Grand Pipe Line for Bitumen Approved

The Alberta Energy Regulator has approved the $3-billion Grand Rapids oil pipeline with 26 conditions.

The pipeline is designed to ship up to 900,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from near Fort McMurray, Alta., to the Edmonton area.

Several of the conditions deal with the pipeline's route and others deal with enhanced environmental monitoring and mitigation to better protect wildlife and wetlands.The approval follows two weeks of hearings this summer.

The hearings were boycotted by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which is an aboriginal group that lives in Alberta's oilsands region.The First Nation criticized the process as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry.

Landowners, First Nation raise concerns

The Grand Rapids hearing was the first by the Alberta Energy Regulator since it replaced the Energy Resources Conservation Board last year and took over duties from the province's environment department.
The Grand Rapids pipeline is a 50-50 partnership between Calgary-based TransCanada and a unit of PetroChina.

The Athabasca Chipewyan has called it the "mother of all pipelines," with a capacity nearly double what the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would ship to the B.C. coast.

The First Nation has said more high-profile projects, such as Energy East and Keystone XL, would not be able to go ahead without volumes from Grand Rapids.

TransCanada has disputed that characterization, saying Energy East and Keystone XL don't hinge on Grand Rapids being built.

Grand Rapids pipeline project

The Grand Rapids pipeline project is a 50-50 partnership between Calgary-based TransCanada and a unit of PetroChina. (TransCanada)

Source- CBC News

October 7, 2014

Tanzania Produces Bitumen Emulsion

The first ever bituminous emulsion production has been commissioned in the country. The bituminous emulsion production plant owned by Starpeco Limited was inaugurated over the weekend in Dar es Salaam.

Bitumen emulsions generally belong to the oil-in-water type of emulsions where bitumen is dispersed in water with the aid of a small quantity of an emulsifying agent.

Bitumen emulsions are mainly used in road construction and maintenance. Starpeco Limited Managing Director, Mr Mratian Nshekanabo, told journalists that the availability and effective use of Emulsion product will change the Tanzania construction industry.

“The cold mix technique will change the way we are doing things in the construction and maintenance of roads,” he said. The MD said that the company was proud that the plant has been constructed, erected and finished to the best standard and practices.

“It is formulated and produced products match with international and regional standards,” he said. The plant can produce all types of bituminous emulsion with a capacity of 10,000 litres/hour. The plant is manufactured in Ukraine but its main controlling components (contractors, sensors etc) are from Italy and France.
Mr Nshekanabo said the plant will create direct employment to 25 people and more than 100 indirect jobs. “This will also create demand for other industries (Metal for drums), paint, transportation of plant inputs and outputs, Laboratories, chemicals,” he said.

The Acting Deputy Director, Rural and Urban Roads, Ministry of Works, Mr Hassan Matimbe, said the plant supports the country’s industrialisation efforts and will reduce the importation of Emulsion product and save the national foreign currency.

The company’s Senior Marketing Officer, Mr Jones Mkoka, noted that the plant supports Tanzania’s aim to transform the economy into a middle class.

“Industrialisation is one of the major factors of to realise this objective,” he said. He noted that Starpeco decided to invest in the emulsion bitumen plant in order to produce and make available emulsion bitumen in the country instead of importing.

The company also plans to sell the product which will trade as colabinder outside the country to the Great Lakes region where emulsion bitumen is not readily produced.

“By using emulsion bitumen the government, through Ministry of Works and TANROADS, will manage to reduce costs of roads construction and the funds can be reallocated to other uses,” he said.
According to experts, emulsion bitumen is the most economical bitumen binder in comparison with cut back bitumen binder as it uses water instead of kerosene (cutter).

“It is cheaper and environment-friendly,” he said. Colabinder will only cost between 20 per cent and 30 per cent less than present costs. In the region, emulsion bitumen is only produced in Kenya and Zambia.

October 3, 2014

Rubber Roads for Kerala

In order to extend a helping hand to the struggling 1 milllion plus growers across Kerala, the state government today decided to increase the use of  rubber based bitumen for making and repairing roads.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy has announced this today  after a cabinet meeting. Addressing a press briefing   he said that the Public Works Department (PWD) would order more from Bharat Petroleum Corporation’s Kochi Refinery.

Rubber growers are now in doldrums as the price had dropped almost 50% during last three years. The price of bench mark grade RSS-4 dropped to Rs 122/Kg from Rs 240, recorded in September, 2011.

He also said that the hike in land registration fee and will not be reduced or withdrawn. There are reports that today’s cabinet will consider a reduction in these on account of the public protest. He categorically denied this and said that the hike will be in effect from today onwards.

All the plastic boards across the state will be removed as part of a  Cleaning drive that starts from 2nd October. He said that all the flux boards of ministers will be removed immediately. Ministers will lead the drive in each district.  The government also mulls legislation against the exhibition of plastic boards in the state.

Meanwhile,  Minister for Urban Affairs and Welfare of Minorities,  Manjalamkuzhi Ali said that a programme to collect plastic waste from 65 municipalities at Rs 2 per kg will be launched on October 2. The programme will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister. A plan has also been chalked out to collect e-waste at Rs 5 per kg, he added.

'The Clean Company’ will collect the garbage through municipalities. Now, 1,000 tones of plastic waste remain untreated across the state on  a daily basis.

Clean Kerala will hand over the garbage collected from various municipal  wards to a private agency. Students, volunteers, social workers, casual labourers and Kudumbashree workers  will be part of the initiative.

Ali said plastic waste collection centres would be started in corporations and selected municipalities in the second phase of the project. The first centre of its kind will be launched in Kochi in October itself. The minister said a septic  treatment plant will be started in Kochi to treat septic waste.

Source - The Business Standard

September 25, 2014

Fire in Bitumen Tanks

SECTIONS of the Port of Brisbane were shut down tonight after a silo exploded and burst into flames.

As many as 12 fire crews accompanied by six specialist vehicles raced out to a bitumen company on Bulk Terminals Rd just after 6pm to find a 55-tonne tank alight.

The tank containing bitumen in liquid form had overheated, causing the explosion, which is understood to have blown the roof off the silo.

Police quickly shut down Port Drive and set up a large exclusion zone.
Firefighters managed to douse the blaze by 6.45pm but continued to battle hard to cool the silo down to ensure it would not reignite.

Within a couple of hours, all emergency services crews had left the scene. Management continued the cooling down process.

No persons were injured during the explosion, although a firefighter required the attention of paramedics on standby after sustaining a hand injury while fighting the blaze.

The male firefighter was transported to the PA Hospital with a suspected fracture.

Source- Couriermail

September 24, 2014

Cement Replacing Bitumen in India

According to local reports, the Indian government has decided to use cement instead of bitumen (a popular raw material for road construction) for all new road projects throughout the country. 

The decision is in line with a proposal by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who pushed for the use of cement for road construction, as it is more durable and cheaper to maintain, despite being more expensive in the short-term.

Gadkari stated that, given the volume of work still pending in various states (and plans to achieve an average road-building capacity of 30 km per day in the next two years), the Union ministry would ensure that prices come down. 

According to reports, the ministry is set to revive the sluggish cement industry and restart four of the seven closed public sector plants as part of its aim to reduce prices and obtain cement at a cost of around Rs.160 – 170 per bag (compared to the proposed rate of Rs.350 per bag).

According to ministry officials, detailed reports will be carried out to assess the project cost of using cement. The projects will be evaluated on the basis of the life cycle cost of the project (including maintenance costs), rather than by using just the cost of construction. Cement will be used for all new projects, as long as the cost of construction of a concrete road is not more than 20% higher than that of a road constructed using bitumen, said the officials.

Source- Worldcement.com

September 19, 2014

Govt Backs Bitumen Production

Government still backing bitumen refinery

Energy Minister Frank Oberle says the PC government remains committed to the Sturgeon bitumen refinery.

Photograph by: Gavin Young , Calgary Herald

The Prentice government is fully committed to an Edmonton-area bitumen refinery despite concerns over major cost overruns, says Alberta’s new energy minister.

The government revealed this summer that it will pay $26 billion in tolls to the Sturgeon refinery — formerly known as the North West Upgrader — to process bitumen it receives as royalties over the 30-year life of the project. Previously it had committed to pay $19 billion.

In an op-ed published in the Herald this week, former Tory energy minister Ted Morton said that the hefty price tag makes “it even less likely that the investment will ever break even.”
But Frank Oberle — appointed energy minister by new Premier Jim Prentice on Monday — said the project remains profitable for the government.

“We are convinced in the value of this project and in the value it creates for our industry, for the upgrading potential it has in Alberta and the job-creating potential it has,” Oberle said in an interview Wednesday,
The project also helps the province leverage the price differential between conventional oil and bitumen, he said.

During the summer Progressive Conservative leadership campaign, Prentice said there was a strong benefit from the project because it increased upgrading and the production of diesel in Alberta.
The refinery, under construction near Fort Saskatchewan, will be operated by a partnership between North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Upgrading Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

Its first phase will process 50,000 barrels per day of raw bitumen under fee-for-service processing agreements with the Alberta government and CNRL.
Alberta will provide 75 per cent of the bitumen under the government’s bitumen-royalty-in-kind (BRIK) program.


September 12, 2014

Less Bitumen in the Coming Days

FM Conway has forged a deal with ExxonMobil to import bitumen from its refinery near Antwerp in Belgium

First delivery to Imperial Wharf bitumen terminal  
 First delivery to Imperial Wharf bitumen terminal

The bitumen lands at FM Conway’s new Imperial Wharf site on the River Thames in Gravesend, Kent, which has gone through a £2.5m refurbishment. The wharf has the capacity to dock and store up to 7,500 tonnes of bitumen.

The refurbished facility and jetty will also provide the capacity for FM Conway to import and store a variety of other construction materials.

CEO Michael Conway said: “With global bitumen refinery capacity decreasing, there is a trend for less bitumen to be available. This new collaboration with ExxonMobil allows us to secure a long-term supply of bitumen, giving us full control over our supply and allowing us to cut input costs and, crucially, give security of supply to clients and partners.”

Source -The Construction Index.co.uk