December 31, 2008

Saudi Update


Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, October 26, 2008 -- Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is both a pleasure and an honor to join you this evening and to speak to this distinguished group, given the criticality of the work that each of you perform—whether in the field, in an E&P operations or technology development center, in the lab, or in the classroom. Early in my Saudi Aramco career, I cut my teeth as a young engineer and as a superintendent in producing operations both in the North and the South, as well as gas operations at ‘Uthmaniyah. In fact as PDPs, Amin Nasser and I shared the same office with Northern Area Production engineering. So I know firsthand just how critical and complex upstream operations are, and understand the significance of your achievements not only to Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom, but to the entire industry and in fact the global economy itself.


As you all know, Saudi Aramco is celebrating its 75th anniversary throughout this year with the theme “Energy for Generations.” Tonight, I would simply note that since next year marks the SPE-Saudi Arabia Section’s 50th anniversary, this organization and the generations of petroleum engineers who have passed through its ranks have had a tremendous impact on our company and its unmatched record of reliability as an energy provider to the world.
Just as is the case with Saudi Aramco, I am confident that the best and brightest days of this SPE organization still lie ahead, and I believe that together we can look forward to a promising future even as we draw strength from our proud past.


To that end, the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Saudi Arabia Section continues to do tremendous work in developing, disseminating and exchanging technical information, in keeping earth scientists up to speed with the latest developments in their field, and ensuring that the Kingdom’s upstream professionals remain at the very forefront of their chosen fields of endeavor. Let me therefore take just a moment to thank the Section, its leadership and its members not only for the kind invitation to speak tonight, but for all of your efforts to help Saudi Arabia’s petroleum sector fulfill its commitments and to enable our nation and its people to realize an even more prosperous future.


Tonight, I would like to address an issue which is on the minds and the tongues of many people these days, not only here in the Kingdom but elsewhere around the globe: the impact of the present worldwide economic situation on Saudi Aramco, and in particular on its portfolio of major industrial projects.


If you have picked up a newspaper, read a magazine, watched television, listened to the radio or visited the internet at any time during the last six weeks, you will be well aware that the global economy is in the midst of one of its most serious crises in many decades. In rapid succession, we’ve gone from the collapse of a housing bubble in the United States as a result of defaults in the subprime mortgage sector, to the collapse or buyout of some of the world’s most storied financial institutions and the evaporation of inter-bank and consumer credit markets. Stock markets around the world have plummeted as a result, with hundreds of billions of dollars wiped off the value of equity holdings. Unfortunately we are now familiar with a whole new lingo: “CDOs” or collateralized-debt obligations; so-called “ninja” loans made to people with “no income, no job or assets”; and of course the infamous “toxic debt.”
And yet it appears that even though more than a year has passed since the implosion of the US housing market, no one is quite sure to what extent banks, insurers and re-insurers, and indeed the global financial system as a whole are exposed to such bad debts and junk loans. To date, governments around the world have spent an estimated 3.5 trillion dollars to bail out banks and provide additional liquidity but it’s still not clear that either the banking sector or the stock markets have touched bottom.


Even more worrying, at present we are moving from a crisis in the financial markets to a slowdown in what people call the “real economy”: Main Street and the high street as opposed to Wall Street and the City. A number of major global economies appear to be on the edge of a recession, unless they are already in one. Japan is probably already in recession, figures released on Friday indicate third-quarter declines in gross domestic product in both the United Kingdom and the Euro zone, and one White House advisor says parts of the United States are already experiencing a recession.


Even rapidly developing and expanding economies like China and India are experiencing flatter growth rates: China’s GDP grew roughly 10 percent year-on-year for the first three quarters of 2008—two and half percent less than last year, while India’s central bank recently cut its forecast of 2008-2009 GDP growth from eight to 7.5 percent. While those are still astounding rates of growth, consider that analysts estimate China must maintain annual GDP growth of eight percent simply to absorb new job-seekers. Then consider that as a result of the slowing global economy, the United Nations is now predicting that some 20 million people around the world will lose their jobs by the end of next year, and that the total number of unemployed men and women across the globe will top 200 million for the first time in history.
Of course, all of this doom and gloom has had a negative impact on petroleum demand, which is down roughly eight percent from last year. As a result, crude oil inventories have risen by seven percent over the last month, with crude stocks in the US jumping by more than three million barrels just last week. The markets have taken their cues from both the economic slowdown and this rapid stock-build, with light sweet crude prices touching levels last seen in the spring of 2007. At the moment, this summer’s 147-dollar-per-barrel high seems just a distant memory.
Clearly this is a turbulent time for the petroleum industry as a whole, given the widespread economic uncertainty and destruction of demand that we are currently witnessing. But what do these developments mean for Saudi Aramco, and in particular, for the various megaprojects which we are developing?


When it comes to our new crude oil increments and gas expansion projects, the impact of the present economic turmoil will be minimal. By and large, our upstream projects are self-financing, or “corporate financed,” meaning that we are not reliant on the banks or credit institutions to finance our expansion programs.However the need to bring in additional volumes of oil in a contracting market will be examined carefully.
Of course, we already possess substantial spare crude oil production capabilities, in keeping with the Kingdom’s longstanding commitment to maintain 1.5 to two million barrels per day in spare capacity. Coupled with today’s softening demand picture, this capacity gives us an additional cushion when it comes to project timetables and commissioning activities, and contributes to our operational flexibility in the area of crude oil production.


When it comes to our downstream joint ventures, including our export-oriented refineries and our integrated refining and petrochemical projects, I can tell you that our partners are still highly committed and anxious to see these projects move forward. I think it is realistic to say that financing these megaprojects through borrowing in a tight credit market will be a challenge. However, because of the uncertain nature of the global financial crisis, it is really too early to tell what sort of fallout there will be for the funding of these projects. In addition, any such impact will be a function of the generally tight global credit market and the internal lending considerations of banks and financial institutions themselves, rather than a reflection of the long-term economic viability of these projects, which remains positive.
On the bright side, the declining commodity prices that are a byproduct of the global economic slowdown will help to reduce the estimated price tags of these projects, as the cost of materials like steel and copper falls sharply. In addition, equipment like drilling rigs and building cranes as well as the qualified professionals needed to operate them will likely be in greater supply as a result of cancelled or delayed projects elsewhere in the industry, and in other parts of the global economy such as the construction and basic infrastructure sectors. As a result, short-term project economics may actually benefit from the current financial turmoil, and companies with a lot of cash will come ahead.


But I would argue that the whole question of the impact these short-term market gyrations will have on Saudi Aramco and its projects is somewhat misguided because of the very nature of our business and in particular, because of the nature of our business model. Ladies and gentlemen, just as we have for many, many decades, we look to the long-term, so the day-to-day noise generated by the markets doesn’t matter very much when it comes to Saudi Aramco’s project portfolio.


Let’s face it: our facilities are designed and built with 40- or 50-year time horizons in mind. We know without a doubt that the massive hydrocarbon resource base is there thanks to men and women like you and therefore we know for certain that these facilities will still be in our operational portfolio when our sons, our daughters and even our grandchildren are the ones producing and processing our oil and gas. No one today could tell you what the Dow was doing when we began to produce Ghawar or where the FTSE index was when Safaniya was developed, and in the future the world will only remember that Saudi Aramco brought sufficient crude oil, refining and petrochemical capacity on-stream when it was needed, where it was needed just as we have done for 75 years.


Furthermore, short-term market volatility is nothing new to our industry; as the well-known energy analyst and historian Dan Yergin has said, “Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of oil.” Over the last decade, for example, we’ve seen WTI prices as low as twelve and as high as 147 dollars. It’s a similar picture in refining, where refiners made a killing between 2004 and 2006 after having hemorrhaged money for years. These chronic boom-and-bust cycles are why successful petroleum enterprises view their activities as a marathon rather than a sprint, and why the oil business is not for the faint of heart or the short of breath. In fact, given the long lead-times involved in petroleum industry projects, we may actually be poised to catch the bounce as the global economy recovers, energy demand picks up, and our new facilities come on-stream.


But even if the global economic recovery proves to be some way off, the only way these investments don’t make good business and economic sense over their useful life spans is if you believe that rising economies like China and India will cease to grow; that the billions of people living in those markets will no longer want to enjoy a more prosperous and affluent lifestyle; that they are not interested in providing greater economic and social opportunities for their children; and that overall energy demand will somehow decrease even as the total population of the planet increases.


I for one don’t see any of those scenarios coming to pass, and therefore I remain bullish on Saudi Aramco’s plans for the future and our business portfolio of tomorrow. Our ship may have encountered choppy seas as a result of the current economic crisis, and we may be in for a bumpy few months. But at Saudi Aramco, we set our course as the world’s foremost supplier of energy a long time ago, and are both committed to and capable of reaching our chosen destination, no matter how hard the storm around us may blow or how dark and gloomy the skies above us may seem.


Ladies and gentlemen, let me close tonight by sharing a recent experience I had, which brought home to me the measures to which people will go in order to produce even a few barrels of oil. As they say, seeing is believing.


A few weeks ago I was in Canada, visiting one of the oil sands production facilities there in Alberta. It was a vast open-pit mining operation incorporating powerful earth moving equipment, huge dump trucks, vast amounts of heated water used to create slurry, and massive bitumen extraction and upgrading units to process it. It was truly an incredible operation from both a logistical and a technological perspective. But while petroleum production from Canada’s oil sands has doubled over the last ten years, it still totals only about 1.2 million barrels per day roughly equivalent to the production of our upcoming Khurais increment alone, and just one-tenth of what Saudi Aramco’s total crude oil production capacity will be at the end of next year. If the folks I met at that facility are willing to go to such extremes to tap even a small fraction of the crude oil we produce, think about the significance of what the Kingdom and its petroleum sector contribute to global energy markets.


My friends, at Saudi Aramco we have been entrusted with the world’s largest reserves of crude oil and its fourth-largest natural gas reserves. We are charged with operating, maintaining and further developing the planet’s largest petroleum production network; processing that hydrocarbon energy; and supplying oil, refined products and natural gas to domestic and international markets in a timely and reliable fashion. And that is why as the world’s economy continues to grow—as it will billions of our fellow men and women will increasingly look to us to meet their energy needs, so that they might realize the promise of prosperity for themselves and for generations to come.


Ladies and gentlemen, let me express my appreciation for your attention this evening, and thank you again for your continued efforts and considerable contributions to the vital work that we perform as energy providers to the world.

Enery Cirsis at KL

Al Naim Discusses Future Demand

KUALA LUMPUR, December 31, 2008 --

The third annual International Petroleum Technology Conference, under the theme “Meeting the Energy Needs of a Growing World Economy,” concluded after three days at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on Dec. 5. Industry leaders, gas and oil companies and more than 6,000 participants discussed the need for innovative technology — and people — to meet the world’s future energy demands.

Malaysian performers kick off the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Kuala Lumpur. More than 6,000 industry leaders and professionals were in attendance. (Photos: Salah A. Al-Alwan)
“The environment for the oil and gas industry is set to become more challenging in the coming years,” said Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, at the conference’s opening ceremony. “The long-term sustainability of the oil and gas industry depends on the willingness of industry players to push the boundaries of technology and innovation.”

And that is what Saudi Aramco works toward, said Abdulla A. Al Naim, Saudi Aramco vice president of Petroleum Engineering and Development, in his presentation at a plenary discussion titled “Sustaining Production Rates to Meet Future Demand.”

“The massive crude oil production increments we’re now bringing online will still be in our operational portfolio a generation from now,” he said. “And our research and development initiatives are focused on creating the next wave of upstream technologies, which will enhance our exploration and production operations for many years to come.”

More than 300 technical papers — 18 from Saudi Aramco researchers and engineers — covering that technology were presented at the conference, ranging from acid systems and plant performance tests to cementing high-pressure formations and permeability simulation models.

Abdulla A. Al Naim
“Technology cannot be an afterthought or an add-on,” said Muhammad M. Al-Saggaf, manager of the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering (EXPEC) Advanced Research Center and co-chairman of the conference’s Exploration and Production Technologies panel session. “It is a necessary part of any successful oil and gas strategy — both now and in the future.”

Part of the company’s strategy is to access the Kingdom’s more than 720 billion barrels of discovered oil resources, almost half of which are not part of the current reserves.

However, it is also part of the company’s strategy to change that, with the help of technology.

“We work to keep our currently recoverable reserves at 260 billion barrels,” said Al Naim. “The rest of the discovered resources are not part of our current reserves, and they are considered probable, possible and contingent.” The company, he said, plans to convert those to reserves.

NOCs, IOCs Make Most of Each Other's Strengths
While the technology doesn’t yet exist to access those resources, the company has been expanding its maximum sustainable production capacity from 10 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2004 to 12 million bpd next year. Several oil field increments are due to be completed soon, and each has a unique technological accomplishment.

“The Khurais area development is the largest increment in the company’s history and probably the whole world,” Al Naim said. “The typical producing well will be a single horizontal lateral, with a 1.5 to 2 kilometer open-hole section, equipped with inflow control devices for water production management.” Smart electrical submersible pumps also will be installed.

Cutting-edge technology also will be used at the Shaybah field expansion, which will produce an additional 250,000 bpd when completed early next year. Maximum reservoir contact (MRC) wells, defined as single or multilateral wells with a total reservoir contact of 5 kilometers or more, reduce development costs and help improve performance.

“Shaybah witnessed the first application of the MRC concept in Saudi Arabia on a large scale,” Al Naim said. “As we increase the reservoir contact, we increase the well’s productivity.”

Technology also maximizes reservoir output by managing the processes that occur in the reservoir itself, such as inflow, control devices and intelligent fields, or I-fields. The inflow control devices act as “equalizers,” balancing the flow in the reservoir in order to impede the production of gas and water with the oil, and therefore improve recovery.

Al Naim said the inflow control devices have substantially improved production in Saudi Aramco wells and improved their longevity. I-fields, he continued, use remote information capturing and real-time data from the wells to make real-time production and reservoir management decisions. That also improves oil recovery and reduces long-term operating costs.

In monitoring reservoirs, the company is on the cutting edge, having developed its own reservoir simulator. “Industry records were achieved last month by completing a billion-cell simulation using GigaPOWERS, the next-generation Parallel Reservoir Simulator,” he said.

Among such stories of achievement, there is one key: “For this technology to be successful, developed and deployed, a world-class work force is needed,” Al Naim said. “It is Saudi Aramco’s strategic imperative to prepare our work force for the future.”

In addition to its numerous university scholarships, professional development programs and training courses, the company is also building a training facility, the Upstream Professional Development Center, equipped with state-of-the-art classrooms, 3D visual rooms and simulation rooms that will train tomorrow’s engineers.

“Saudi Aramco has an optimistic view of the future in the long run, and we are confident in our ability to reap the fruits of our long-term exploration and production program,” Al Naim said. “This confidence stems from our faith in investing in people and technology.”

(Article by Sara T. Al-Bassam)

December 26, 2008

BITUMEN IN USA


There is indeed a growing awareness of just how precious the Great Lakes are — and will be — in a century in which many are predicting fresh water will become more coveted than oil.

The significance of this can’t be underestimated for a system of linked lakes that hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water and 90 percent of the nation’s.Recognizing the lakes’ ecological and economic value, President George W. Bush this fall signed the Great Lakes Compact, which prohibits most water diversions outside the Great Lakes basin. Bush signed the measure after the compact received overwhelming bipartisan support from the eight Great Lakes state legislatures, as well as the U.S. House and Senate.

Its passage is the latest example of the region becoming increasingly protective of the lakes.
President-elect Barack Obama promised in his campaign to push for $5 billion to help restore the lakes — money he said would be generated by increased taxes on oil and gas companies.
And it was probably no coincidence he pitted the health of the Great Lakes against Big Oil.

The BP fightIn summer 2007, Great Lakes advocates launched a ferocious fight over BP’s plans to increase its daily pollution discharges into Lake Michigan as part of its $3.8 billion Indiana refinery retrofit.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s incoming chief of staff, wrote a resolution decrying the company’s plans to increase discharges of ammonia and suspended solids, saying, “Congress simply will not stand by while our lakes are treated as a dumping zone.”
Picketers popped up at BP filling stations. Conservationists mocked the company’s “Beyond Petroleum” slogan; Illinois Republican Congressman Mark Kirk took to the House floor and proclaimed that BP actually stood for “Bad Polluter.”Yet the outrage at BP probably overstated the threat.

Headlines said the permit allowed 54 percent more ammonia discharges. That’s about 100 gallons per day. Scientists call that an insignificant amount for a water body the size of Lake Michigan.

The company also was given the green light to increase its discharge of suspended solids from about 3,600 pounds per day to 5,000 pounds. That material, which escapes filtration, can contain everything from organic waste to flecks of dangerous metals. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is allowed to discharge more than 11,000 pounds of suspended solids per day into Lake Michigan.

None of that mattered to refinery opponents. What mattered was the idea the Great Lakes were headed in the wrong direction by allowing a company to dump more pollution. It didn’t matter that the refinery was adding capacity, or processing the dirtier bitumen.
BP ultimately backed off and agreed to pursue an expansion that would not lead to increased discharges into the lake. Whether it succeeds remains to be seen, but the victory emboldened Great Lakes advocates.

Addressing a group of conservationists in Chicago after BP backpedaled, Emanuel said 10 years ago things would have gone BP’s way.
“That’s our Grand Canyon. That’s our Yellowstone National Park,” Emanuel shouted, stabbing his finger toward Lake Michigan. “You touch it, you’d better know what the hell you are doing!”
The tough talk was echoed in a letter from a coalition of Great Lakes mayors to the Indiana regulators who had approved the higher BP discharges.

“We are gravely concerned the quality and environmental protection of the entire Great Lakes system has been placed in serious jeopardy by this decision,” the mayors wrote.
The mayors drew a hard line — a line that some might want to cross in the future.
One of the signatories was Superior Mayor Dave Ross.
Flowers and oil “We expect controversy from this,” Jauch said of Murphy’s plans. “There are some very important issues that the company acknowledges.”

Perhaps the biggest is the fact that the area planned for expansion lies in wetlands that drain into Lake Superior. The wetlands have been designated as low quality by the state, Jauch said, and their loss can be compensated by restoring wetlands somewhere else.
“This entire community is all wetlands,” he said of Superior. “If you don’t mow it, cattails will grow.” Retired DNR wetland expert Duane Lahti said he has walked the wetlands and they are far from pristine. “They have been altered throughout history through logging, agriculture and construction of street and utility corridors,” he said. “They do, however, have functions and values.”

The DNR reports the wetlands in this area, despite their degradation, harbor populations of rare plants and are habitat for many native animals. Conservationists say an environmental survey of the land should be done before anyone can say the area is expendable.
“Naturally, we’re concerned about the proposed destruction of more than a half square mile of biologically significant wetlands,” said Erin O’Brien of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. “But the precedent that would be set if the permits are granted is an even greater concern.”
Murphy’s Kowitz calls the Superior refinery site a “wonderful spot” to process the tar sands bitumen.

“We have an existing refinery. We have access to electricity through Minnesota Power, access to water, access to crude,” he said. “We’re going to put in state-of-the-art equipment, and we’re going to do everything we can to safeguard the environment while providing jobs and petroleum products that people need.” Jauch said his support for the expansion is contingent upon it being done in an environmentally friendly way.

“If the public outcry is too great, well, those things happen,” Kowitz said. “Someone will run the bitumen crude somewhere.” Jauch predicts little opposition from those who live in the area.
“The local people aren’t fighting it,” agreed 81-year-old Everett Schaefer, who grumbled about the fuss people are making over the need to protect “swamp ground.”
The owner of a second-hand store and restaurant in Superior, Schaefer said his town is so desperate for the economic bump a new refinery would bring that he’s willing to pitch in to get it built. “Heck,” he said, “I’d go out there and work for free.”

Flower shop owner Laura Laberdie sees only an upside to Murphy’s plans.
“If my customers are working full time, they’re more likely to buy flowers,” she said. “If the restaurants are busier, then they can afford to buy more flowers.”
Standing behind a counter in an outfitters’ store that sells $700 fishing rods, drinking from a Starbucks mug and sporting a baseball hat with a KUMD public radio logo on it, 61-year-old retired railroad engineer Larry Markley is a self-described liberal with a keen interest in the health of the 350-mile-long lake across the street.

He said he doesn’t like that the region is becoming inextricably hitched to the Alberta tar sands, but he isn’t sure what to do about it. Tar sands oil production is becoming increasingly controversial because of the amount of energy it takes to bring the stuff to the surface and the effect mining is having on Canada’s boreal forests.

“The process of procuring oil from that tar, I have a lot of problems with that, but what are my choices as a citizen?” he said. “Drill more around the U.S.? Or import from other countries besides Canada? Neither of those are very attractive.” Markley said too many jobs in town don’t pay a wage high enough for a family to buy a house and send their kids to college, and he’s willing to put up with a well-regulated refinery if it will help.
“It’s an American dilemma,” he said of the oil. “We’ve got to keep using this stuff. We can’t deny that.

— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
IRAQ. Iraq, holder of the world’s third largest crude reserves, will start selling oil to SK Energy Co, South Korea’s largest refiner, from January after a one-year suspension.
Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization will sell SK Energy 65,000 barrels a day of oil under the terms of a new contract, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official, who declined to be identified for security reasons, said.

Iraq suspended crude oil exports to SK Energy in January this year, objecting to an SK Energy-led South Korean group’s agreement with Kurdistan to export oil from disputed fields. The group signed a production-sharing contract with Kurdistan for the Bazian block in northeastern Iraq, Korea National Oil Corp said on 12 November.
The Kurdish Regional Government, also known as KRG, has pursued an independent energy policy since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has warned that Kurdish contracts will be reviewed when a federal energy law is passed and talks to date have slowly brought the two sides closer.

SK Energy was set to resume imports from Iraq as the KRG and authorities in Baghdad come closer to resolving their differences, the Seoul Economic Daily reported in June, citing an unidentified government official. The Iraqi and KRG governments have made progress in agreeing an energy law that will determine how income from oil fields is divided, the Korean-language newspaper said.

December 23, 2008

Blending Plastic with Bitumen

Blending Plastic with Bitumen


Double the durability. The offer that comes with plastic-blended roads is welcome in a city increasingly identified by its battered roads. But the cost of technical upgrades and low customer patronage are also leaving holders of this patented technology struggling to keep afloat.


K K Plastic Waste Management (KKPWM), that pioneered the model of plastic-blended bitumen on Bangalore's roads, now plans to upgrade the technology to reach out to more. After discussions with venture capitalists failed to make headway, the proprietors are finalizing plans to start out on their own.


Under partnership with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), about 600 km of Bangalore's roads have been laid with the plastic-bitumen blend that, experts say, ensures almost double the durability of normal roads. Ahmed Khan, MD of KKPWM, says the plan is to upgrade from the present dry mix model to a wet mix model. KKPWM has bought five acres of land near Kunigal to construct a wet mix unit at an estimated cost of about Rs 5 crore.
"In the dry mix model, our staff have to monitor the entire process of mixing bitumen with plastic on the construction sites. With the wet mix, we'll be able to mix this blend with tar and supply it as a complete product. It has immense potential as an industry,'' says Khan.
Rasool Khan, director of the company, says the extra cost (see box) involved is balanced out by the extra durability. The plastic model has been used on M G Road, Cunningham Road, K H Road, J C Nagar Road, Shankar Mutt Road, Miller's Road, Cubbon Road and old roads like one in Dollars Colony.


CALL FOR MORE TAKERS


The technology involves blending of bitumen and plastic, both non-biodegradable. According to sources, more MoUs between the BBMP and KKPWM are in the pipeline but the company is also looking at partnering Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the public works department.


"The BBMP is our only end-user. There's a need for more civic agencies to join in,'' says Khan. Under the dry mix model, waste is segregated and powdered at the KKPWM unit and blended in equal measure with bitumen at the construction site.


THE BIG IDEA


Ahmed Khan, an entrepreneur from Krishnarajapet in Mandya, used to deal in plastic products. After the call against plastic became shriller during the mid-1990s, Khan thought of a creative way to deal with the issue and hit upon the idea of plastic-blended bitumen on roads. In partnership with researchers in road engineering, the technology was custom-made and experiments were done on roads in Maddur in 2001. The technology has found favour but is banking on bigger investment and better patronage to make the next level.


WASTE PRODUCT
Bangalore generates 35 tonnes of plastic per day
KKPWM collects 4 tonnes, pays rag-pickers Rs 6-12 per kg
BBMP purchases waste from KKPWM at Rs 27 per kg
Plastic road costs Rs 40,000 extra per km
2 tonne plastic needed for every km of road (3.5 m wide)


BEST MIX
Tar
Mix of metal aggregate, asphalt as binder
Cost: Rs 1.5-Rs 2 cr
Concrete
Mix of metal aggregate, cement as binder
Cost: Rs 4.5 cr*
Plastic
Plastic waste is cleaned, segregated and powdered. Mixed with bitumen, blended with other aggregates, then laid
Cost: Rs 1.5-Rs 2 cr
Making an accurate comparison between a tar and concrete road could be a tough ask because the performance of roads depends on many factors, including the volume of traffic.
-- Krishnareddy, chief engineer (major roads), BBMP
* Cost comparative for 3.5-m wide road of 1 km, with medium volume of traffic
* While initial investment is higher on concrete road, recurring maintenance cost is low
An interesting and education website for bitumen.

http://ping.fm/wiqzx

December 1, 2008

PWD In Bitumen Scandal


Yet another bitumen scandal , this time from the PWD ( Public Works Department)


Some glaring ‘loopholes’ in the functioning of the Public Works Department have come to light during the investigation into the multi crore bitumen supply scam of 2007-08 in the PWD.
The scam pertains to supply of thousands of litres of bitumen from Panipat refineries, which was inordinately delayed or never received physically, but was shown to have been received in official files.


Investigators have pointed at ‘major faults’ in the stock-keeping process of various sub-divisions of the PWD, which were never checked by the executive engineers or other senior officials for years, making things easy for the perpetrators of the scam.


Though the PWD gets its annual supply of bitumen through a PSU — Him Agro Industries Corporation —, interestingly, the department did not bother to report delay or non-delivery of stock to the PSU. It is stipulated that bitumen has to be delivered within five days of the placement of order, but at some places, the supply reached late by up to six months. Also, the rates quoted by Him Agro to transporters were found to be 60 per cent lower than the prevailing market rates


In many cases, junior engineers, who are supposed to be in charge of stock at all PWD divisions did not mention the date of receipt of the bitumen drums on the goods receipt (GR) of the truck, which made it easy for the transporter to forge the GRs. It has also been discovered that in some cases, the same vehicle has been shown in records reaching two separate destinations in different districts on the same day.

There is also no standard stock taking process being followed in all PWD divisions, which also helps in camouflaging major irregularities, revealed the probe.
Besides transporters who were engaged for transporting bitumen drums from Panipat to various destinations in Himachal and PWD officials, role of excise and taxation officials has also come under the scanner.

A senior official said the connivance of excise and taxation officials cannot be ruled out because, in many cases, the vehicle number and quantity of goods mentioned on the GRs does not match with the VAT declarations, which are checked by these officials at barriers. The fault was overlooked not once but hundreds of times in various districts as there are over 5,000 truck trips shown on paper for supplying bitumen.
As the Vigilance prepares to register the fourth FIR in the scam, more skeletons are expected to tumble out of the closet, sources said.